Thích Nh?t H?nh

Thích Nhất Hạnh es un Maestro Zen nacido en Vietnam Central el 11 de Octubre de 1926, monje budista desde hace más de cuatro décadas y activista por la Paz, nominado para el Premio Nobel por ese motivo. Refugiado político en Francia desde 1972, por su combate pacífico, empezado durante la guerra de Vietnam

En Vietnam Fundó la Escuela de la Juventud para los Servicios Sociales, la Universidad Budista de Vanh Hanh, la editorial Le Boi Press y la Orden del Interser. Enseñó en la Universidad de Columbia y la Sorbona. En 1967 Fue nominado por Martin Luther King para el Premio Nobel de la Paz.

Vivio en Francia, en una comunidad de enseñanza Budista llamada Plum Village, fundada en 1982, cercana a Burdeos.

Uploaded on Jan 5, 2012
Retiro 2004.Una buena respiración es suficiente.
Uno de los maestros zen más conocidos y respetados del mundo, poeta, activista por la paz y los derechos humanos, Thich Nhat Hahn (sus estudiantes lo llaman Thay, que significa «maestro») ha tenido una vida extraordinaria. Nació en el Vietnam central, en 1926, y se convirtió en monje a la edad de 16 años. La guerra de Vietnam enfrentó a los monasterios a la difícil cuestión de decidir si llevar una vida contemplativa y dedicarse solo a la meditación en los monasterios o ayudar a sus conciudadanos que sufrían bajo los ataques de las bombas y la devastación de la guerra. Nhat Hanh fue uno de los que decidió hacer ambas cosas, ayudando a fundar el movimiento del «Budismo comprometido». Ha dedicado su vida, desde entonces, al trabajo de la transformación personal para el beneficio de los individuos y la sociedad.

thay joven

Al principio de los años 60, en Saigón, Thich Nhat Hahn fundó la Escuela para el Servicio de Ayuda Social, una organización de ayuda para la reconstrucción de los pueblos y aldeas bombardeadas, la construcción de escuelas y centros médicos, el realojamiento de familias, y la organización de cooperativas agrícolas. Con la ayuda de más de 10.000 estudiantes voluntarios, la SYSS basó su trabajo en los principios budistas de no violencia y acción compasiva. A pesar de la oposición del gobierno vietnamita, Nhat Hahn también fundó la Universidad Budista, una editorial y una influyente revista de activismo por la paz, en Vietnam.

Tras visitar los Estados Unidos en 1966 en misión de paz, se le prohibió su vuelta a Vietnam en 1966. En sus viajes siguientes a los Estados Unidos, tuvo entrevistas con oficiales federales y del Pentágono, como Robert McNamara, a los que presentó argumentos para detener la guerra y pedir la paz. Puede que Nhat Hahn haya ayudado a cambiar el curso de la historia de los Estados Unidos, cuando pidió a Martin Luther King que se opusiera a la guerra de Vietnam públicamente, ayudando, de esta manera, al movimiento por la paz. Al año siguiente, King nominó a Thich Nhat Hahn para el Premio Nóbel de la Paz. Más tarde, Nhat Hanh encabezó la delegación Budista en la Cumbre por la Paz en Paris.

En 1982 fundó Plum Village, una comunidad Budista en el exilio, en Francia, donde continua su trabajo de ayuda a los refugiados, los llamados «boat people», «gente de los barcos», prisioneros políticos, y familias pobres de Vietnam y de todo el mundo. También ha recibido un merecido reconocimiento por su trabajo por los Veteranos de Vietnam, por sus retiros de meditación y su prolífica obra literaria sobre meditación, plena consciencia y paz. Ha publicado 85 libros de poesía, prosa, oraciones, de los cuales 40 están en inglés, incluyendo los más vendidos, «Llámame por mis verdaderos nombres», «La paz está en cada paso», «Ser paz», «Tocando la paz», «Buda viviente, Cristo viviente», «Enseñanzas sobre el amor», «El camino de la emancipación», e «Ira». En Septiembre del 2001, justo pocos días tras los ataques al World Trade Center, dió un memorable discurso sobre la no violencia y el perdón, en la Iglesia Riverside de Nueva York. En Septiembre del 2003 pronunció un discurso a miembros del congreso de los Estados Unidos, en un retiro de dos días.

Thich Nhat Hanh ha hecho mucho por articular y difundir las enseñanzas budistas centrales de atención plena, amabilidad y compasión a una audiencia global amplia. El monje vietnamita, que ha escrito más de 100 libros, es solo superado por el Dalai Lama en fama e influencia.

Nhat Hanh se hizo famoso luchando por los derechos humanos y su trabajo de reconciliación durante la Guerra de Vietnam, lo que llevó a Martin Luther King Jr. a nominarlo para un Premio Nobel.

Se le considera el padre del «budismo comprometido», un movimiento que vincula la práctica de la atención plena con la acción social. También ha construido una red de monasterios y centros de retiro en seis países de todo el mundo, incluido Estados Unidos.

En 2014, Nhat Hanh, sufrió un derrame cerebral. Aunque no pudo hablar después del accidente cerebro vascular, continuó dirigiendo a la comunidad, usando su brazo izquierdo y expresiones faciales para comunicarse.

En octubre de 2018, Nhat Hanh sorprendió a sus discípulos al informarles que le gustaría regresar a su hogar en Vietnam para pasar sus últimos días en el templo raíz de Tu Hieu en Hue, donde se convirtió en monje en 1942 a los 16 años. Nhat Hanh fue exiliado de Vietnam por su activismo contra la guerra, desde 1966, hasta que finalmente fue invitado de regreso en 2005. Pero su regreso a su tierra natal se trata menos de reconciliación política que de algo mucho más profundo. Y contiene lecciones para todos nosotros sobre cómo morir en paz y cómo dejar a las personas que amamos.




Thích Nh?t H?nh es un Maestro Zen nacido en Vietnam Central el 11 de Octubre de 1926, monje budista desde hace más de cuatro décadas y activista por la Paz, nominado para el Premio Nobel por ese motivo. Refugiado político en Francia desde 1972, por su combate pacífico, empezado durante la guerra de Vietnam

En Vietnam Fundó la Escuela de la Juventud para los Servicios Sociales, la Universidad Budista de Vanh Hanh, la editorial Le Boi Press y la Orden del Interser. Enseñó en la Universidad de Columbia y la Sorbona. En 1967 Fue nominado por Martin Luther King para el Premio Nobel de la Paz.

Vivio en Francia, en una comunidad de enseñanza Budista llamada Plum Village, fundada en 1982, cercana a Burdeos.







Uploaded on Jan 5, 2012
Retiro 2004.Una buena respiración es suficiente.
Uno de los maestros zen más conocidos y respetados del mundo, poeta, activista por la paz y los derechos humanos, Thich Nhat Hahn (sus estudiantes lo llaman Thay, que significa "maestro") ha tenido una vida extraordinaria. Nació en el Vietnam central, en 1926, y se convirtió en monje a la edad de 16 años. La guerra de Vietnam enfrentó a los monasterios a la difícil cuestión de decidir si llevar una vida contemplativa y dedicarse solo a la meditación en los monasterios o ayudar a sus conciudadanos que sufrían bajo los ataques de las bombas y la devastación de la guerra. Nhat Hanh fue uno de los que decidió hacer ambas cosas, ayudando a fundar el movimiento del "Budismo comprometido". Ha dedicado su vida, desde entonces, al trabajo de la transformación personal para el beneficio de los individuos y la sociedad.

thay joven

Al principio de los años 60, en Saigón, Thich Nhat Hahn fundó la Escuela para el Servicio de Ayuda Social, una organización de ayuda para la reconstrucción de los pueblos y aldeas bombardeadas, la construcción de escuelas y centros médicos, el realojamiento de familias, y la organización de cooperativas agrícolas. Con la ayuda de más de 10.000 estudiantes voluntarios, la SYSS basó su trabajo en los principios budistas de no violencia y acción compasiva. A pesar de la oposición del gobierno vietnamita, Nhat Hahn también fundó la Universidad Budista, una editorial y una influyente revista de activismo por la paz, en Vietnam.

Tras visitar los Estados Unidos en 1966 en misión de paz, se le prohibió su vuelta a Vietnam en 1966. En sus viajes siguientes a los Estados Unidos, tuvo entrevistas con oficiales federales y del Pentágono, como Robert McNamara, a los que presentó argumentos para detener la guerra y pedir la paz. Puede que Nhat Hahn haya ayudado a cambiar el curso de la historia de los Estados Unidos, cuando pidió a Martin Luther King que se opusiera a la guerra de Vietnam públicamente, ayudando, de esta manera, al movimiento por la paz. Al año siguiente, King nominó a Thich Nhat Hahn para el Premio Nóbel de la Paz. Más tarde, Nhat Hanh encabezó la delegación Budista en la Cumbre por la Paz en Paris.

En 1982 fundó Plum Village, una comunidad Budista en el exilio, en Francia, donde continua su trabajo de ayuda a los refugiados, los llamados "boat people", "gente de los barcos", prisioneros políticos, y familias pobres de Vietnam y de todo el mundo. También ha recibido un merecido reconocimiento por su trabajo por los Veteranos de Vietnam, por sus retiros de meditación y su prolífica obra literaria sobre meditación, plena consciencia y paz. Ha publicado 85 libros de poesía, prosa, oraciones, de los cuales 40 están en inglés, incluyendo los más vendidos, "Llámame por mis verdaderos nombres", "La paz está en cada paso", "Ser paz", "Tocando la paz", "Buda viviente, Cristo viviente", "Enseñanzas sobre el amor", "El camino de la emancipación", e "Ira". En Septiembre del 2001, justo pocos días tras los ataques al World Trade Center, dió un memorable discurso sobre la no violencia y el perdón, en la Iglesia Riverside de Nueva York. En Septiembre del 2003 pronunció un discurso a miembros del congreso de los Estados Unidos, en un retiro de dos días.

Thich Nhat Hanh ha hecho mucho por articular y difundir las enseñanzas budistas centrales de atención plena, amabilidad y compasión a una audiencia global amplia. El monje vietnamita, que ha escrito más de 100 libros, es solo superado por el Dalai Lama en fama e influencia.

Nhat Hanh se hizo famoso luchando por los derechos humanos y su trabajo de reconciliación durante la Guerra de Vietnam, lo que llevó a Martin Luther King Jr. a nominarlo para un Premio Nobel.

Se le considera el padre del "budismo comprometido", un movimiento que vincula la práctica de la atención plena con la acción social. También ha construido una red de monasterios y centros de retiro en seis países de todo el mundo, incluido Estados Unidos.

En 2014, Nhat Hanh, sufrió un derrame cerebral. Aunque no pudo hablar después del accidente cerebro vascular, continuó dirigiendo a la comunidad, usando su brazo izquierdo y expresiones faciales para comunicarse.

En octubre de 2018, Nhat Hanh sorprendió a sus discípulos al informarles que le gustaría regresar a su hogar en Vietnam para pasar sus últimos días en el templo raíz de Tu Hieu en Hue, donde se convirtió en monje en 1942 a los 16 años. Nhat Hanh fue exiliado de Vietnam por su activismo contra la guerra, desde 1966, hasta que finalmente fue invitado de regreso en 2005. Pero su regreso a su tierra natal se trata menos de reconciliación política que de algo mucho más profundo. Y contiene lecciones para todos nosotros sobre cómo morir en paz y cómo dejar a las personas que amamos.




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Published on Aug 31, 20158 Hour Music for Sleeping and Deep Relaxation – YellowBrickCinema is the leader in Sleep Music, Relaxing Music, Study Music, Meditation Music (including Tibetan Music and Shamanic Music), Healing Music, Reiki Music, Zen Music, …



Published on Aug 31, 2015
8 Hour Music for Sleeping and Deep Relaxation - YellowBrickCinema is the leader in Sleep Music, Relaxing Music, Study Music, Meditation Music (including Tibetan Music and Shamanic Music), Healing Music, Reiki Music, Zen Music, Spa and Massage Music, and Yoga Music.



Published on Aug 27, 2015
6 Hour Instrumental Guitar Music: Relaxing Music, Meditation Music





Published on Apr 2, 2014
Buy music on itunes https://itunes.apple.com/album/night-...

Find out more: http://goo.gl/z8sgYr

Buy Night School (UK): http://goo.gl/fZNTYO
Buy Night School (US): http://goo.gl/0ITtbH

Richard Wiseman is based at the University of Hertfordshire http://www.herts.ac.uk

Voice recording: Sarah Angliss and Colin Uttley http://www.sarahangliss.com

Based on the following research:
Elliott, D., Polman, R., & McGregor, R. (2011). Relaxing Music for Anxiety Control Journal of Music Therapy, 48(3), 264-288

los riesgos de estar sentado demasiado tiempo

AP
01.06.2015 Última actualización 08:08 AM

Etiquetas:
Deporte,
Investigación,
ejercicio,
Sedentarismo,
British Journal of Sports Medicine,

Los especialistas recomendaron a la gente comenzar con dos horas de estar de pie o de actividad ligera, agregando que con el tiempo deberían duplicar eso.

En años recientes, los peligros de estar sentado demasiado tiempo han sido comparados con los del tabaquismo, incluso con investigaciones que indican que la gente que pasa la mayor parte de sus días sentada tiene mayor probabilidad de padecer obesidad, problemas cardiacos, cáncer e incluso de morir de manera prematura.

Ni siquiera el ejercicio regular parece ayudar.

«Incluso si uno cumple lineamientos de actividad física, no se pueden evitar los riesgos de estar sentado demasiado tiempo», dijo Gavin Bradley, director del grupo de campaña Get Britain Standing, uno de los autores de las nuevas directrices.


AP
01.06.2015 Última actualización 08:08 AM

Etiquetas:
Deporte,
Investigación,
ejercicio,
Sedentarismo,
British Journal of Sports Medicine,


Los especialistas recomendaron a la gente comenzar con dos horas de estar de pie o de actividad ligera, agregando que con el tiempo deberían duplicar eso.

En años recientes, los peligros de estar sentado demasiado tiempo han sido comparados con los del tabaquismo, incluso con investigaciones que indican que la gente que pasa la mayor parte de sus días sentada tiene mayor probabilidad de padecer obesidad, problemas cardiacos, cáncer e incluso de morir de manera prematura.

Ni siquiera el ejercicio regular parece ayudar.

"Incluso si uno cumple lineamientos de actividad física, no se pueden evitar los riesgos de estar sentado demasiado tiempo", dijo Gavin Bradley, director del grupo de campaña Get Britain Standing, uno de los autores de las nuevas directrices.

ejercicio para ojos

Recomendaciones para el ejercicio:

1.- Trata de hacerlo diario, si no se puede, hazlo cada tercer día o una vez a la semana, hasta que se vuelva un hábito.

2.- No necesitas invertir mucho tiempo, con uno o dos minutos que dediques a la práctica es suficiente.

3.-La puede hacer cualquier persona, desde niños que puedan seguir las instrucciones hasta adultos de cualquier edad.



Recomendaciones para el ejercicio:

1.- Trata de hacerlo diario, si no se puede, hazlo cada tercer día o una vez a la semana, hasta que se vuelva un hábito.

2.- No necesitas invertir mucho tiempo, con uno o dos minutos que dediques a la práctica es suficiente.

3.-La puede hacer cualquier persona, desde niños que puedan seguir las instrucciones hasta adultos de cualquier edad.

la mala circulación sanguínea

La enfermedad arterial oclusiva incluye la enfermedad de las arterias coronarias, que puede provocar un infarto, y la enfermedad arterial periférica, que afecta a la aorta abdominal y sus principales ramificaciones, así como las arterias de las piernas. Otras enfermedades vasculares periféricas son la enfermedad de Buerger, la enfermedad de Raynaud y la acrocianosis.
Obstrucción de la irrigación del hígado

Obstrucción de la irrigación intestinal 
La arteria mesentérica superior irriga gran parte del intestino. Cuando esta arteria se obstruye, el tejido intestinal inicia un proceso de degeneración hasta destruirse.
Las personas con enfermedad arterial periférica tienen habitualmente aterosclerosis, una enfermedad en la cual la grasa se acumula debajo del revestimiento de la pared arterial y estrecha gradualmente la arteria. Sin embargo, una oclusión arterial parcial o completa puede ser el resultado de otras causas, como un coágulo sanguíneo. Cuando se produce el estrechamiento de una arteria, las partes del organismo que irriga reciben un flujo sanguíneo insuficiente. La consiguiente disminución de la provisión de oxígeno (isquemia) puede manifestarse súbitamente (isquemia aguda) o de forma gradual (isquemia crónica).
Para ayudar a prevenir la enfermedad arterial periférica, se debe reducir el número de factores de riesgo de la aterosclerosis, como el hábito de fumar, la obesidad, la hipertensión y los valores altos de colesterol. Otra de las causas principales de enfermedad arterial periférica es la diabetes, por lo que un tratamiento adecuado de la misma puede retrasar el desarrollo de la enfermedad arterial. Una vez que la enfermedad arterial periférica se manifiesta, el principal objetivo es el tratamiento de las complicaciones (calambres en las piernas al caminar, angina de pecho, arritmias, insuficiencia cardíaca, infarto, ictus e insuficiencia renal).

Si crees que ha llegado el momento de ponerle remedio a la mala circulación sanguínea toma nota de nuestros consejos:

  • Hacer ejercicio: para que la sangre circule es fundamental el ejercicio y el movimiento. Reactiva la circulación de tus piernas dedicando al menos 30 minutos al día a caminar, correr, nadar y montar en bicicleta.
  • Estiramientos por la mañana: lo primero que debes hacer antes de levantarte por las mañanas es estirar todos los músculos de tu cuerpo. Hacerlo ayudará a activarte después de varias horas de descanso e inactividad.
  • Terminar las duchas con agua fría: no es necesario que te duches con agua fría, con los instantes finales ya es suficiente para que tu sangre fluya de la manera adecuada. Además, al salir de la ducha te sentirás mucho más relajada.
  • En el trabajo: si tu empleo te obliga a pasar muchas horas en una silla debes moverte al menos unos minutos cada hora y mantener los pies elevados de vez en cuando. Si notas pequeños calambres en las piernas levántate y camino durante un rato hasta que se te pase.
  • Evitar la ropa estrecha: presionar las piernas o la cintura con unos pantalones demasiado ajustados empeora considerablemente tu circulación. Tenlo en cuenta a la hora de comprarte ropa e intenta buscar aquellas con las que tengas más flexibilidad.
  • Beber mucha agua: para poder eliminar todos los líquidos que te sobran es necesario beber mucha agua. Se aconseja beber al menos 2 litros de agua al día para poder notar sus beneficios y mejorar en calidad de vida.
  • Comer menos carne: no debe desaparecer de tu dieta, pero tampoco se puede convertir en la base de tu alimentación. La carne contiene grasas animales que generan residuos indeseables en tu cuerpo. Aprende a controlar las cantidades de carne que comes a la semana.
  • Cuidado con la sal: la ingesta excesiva de sodio empeora tu circulación sanguínea. Se recomienda usar siempre sal marina ya que es menos perjudicial.
  • Potasio: en cambio, el potasio ayuda a eliminar el exceso de líquidos en tu cuerpo. Entre los alimentos ricos en potasio se encuentran el arroz integral, los cereales integrales, el germen de trigo, el aguacate, todas las frutas frescas, las ciruelas o las pasas.
  • Vitamina E: para una mejor circulación sanguínea es fundamental que los alimentos con vitamina E estén muy presentes en tu dieta. Algunos de ellos son los cacahuetes, las olivas, el salmón, el atún, la ternera, los huevos, el pollo y todos los derivados de la leche.
  • Otros alimentos beneficiosos: el aceite de oliva, las nueces, la miel, las hortalizas y las verduras también ayudan a mejorar tu circulación sanguínea. En cuanto a la dieta, debemos incluir alimentos ricos en magnesio, calcio, vitaminas E, K y C. Por otra parte, los alimentos picantes como la cayena, curry, canela, pimienta pueden aumentar la frecuencia cardíaca, de forma que fluya más sangre a los pies. Además, debemos evitar los productos lácteos, ya que aumentan esta sensación de frío , y la cafeína , que comprime los vasos sanguíneos. La deshidratación también puede enfriar los pies, por lo que el consumo regular de agua será beneficioso.
La enfermedad arterial oclusiva incluye la enfermedad de las arterias coronarias, que puede provocar un infarto, y la enfermedad arterial periférica, que afecta a la aorta abdominal y sus principales ramificaciones, así como las arterias de las piernas. Otras enfermedades vasculares periféricas son la enfermedad de Buerger, la enfermedad de Raynaud y la acrocianosis.
Obstrucción de la irrigación del hígado
Obstrucción de la irrigación intestinal 
La arteria mesentérica superior irriga gran parte del intestino. Cuando esta arteria se obstruye, el tejido intestinal inicia un proceso de degeneración hasta destruirse.
Las personas con enfermedad arterial periférica tienen habitualmente aterosclerosis, una enfermedad en la cual la grasa se acumula debajo del revestimiento de la pared arterial y estrecha gradualmente la arteria. Sin embargo, una oclusión arterial parcial o completa puede ser el resultado de otras causas, como un coágulo sanguíneo. Cuando se produce el estrechamiento de una arteria, las partes del organismo que irriga reciben un flujo sanguíneo insuficiente. La consiguiente disminución de la provisión de oxígeno (isquemia) puede manifestarse súbitamente (isquemia aguda) o de forma gradual (isquemia crónica).
Para ayudar a prevenir la enfermedad arterial periférica, se debe reducir el número de factores de riesgo de la aterosclerosis, como el hábito de fumar, la obesidad, la hipertensión y los valores altos de colesterol. Otra de las causas principales de enfermedad arterial periférica es la diabetes, por lo que un tratamiento adecuado de la misma puede retrasar el desarrollo de la enfermedad arterial. Una vez que la enfermedad arterial periférica se manifiesta, el principal objetivo es el tratamiento de las complicaciones (calambres en las piernas al caminar, angina de pecho, arritmias, insuficiencia cardíaca, infarto, ictus e insuficiencia renal).

Si crees que ha llegado el momento de ponerle remedio a la mala circulación sanguínea toma nota de nuestros consejos:

  • Hacer ejercicio: para que la sangre circule es fundamental el ejercicio y el movimiento. Reactiva la circulación de tus piernas dedicando al menos 30 minutos al día a caminar, correr, nadar y montar en bicicleta.
  • Estiramientos por la mañana: lo primero que debes hacer antes de levantarte por las mañanas es estirar todos los músculos de tu cuerpo. Hacerlo ayudará a activarte después de varias horas de descanso e inactividad.
  • Terminar las duchas con agua fría: no es necesario que te duches con agua fría, con los instantes finales ya es suficiente para que tu sangre fluya de la manera adecuada. Además, al salir de la ducha te sentirás mucho más relajada.
  • En el trabajo: si tu empleo te obliga a pasar muchas horas en una silla debes moverte al menos unos minutos cada hora y mantener los pies elevados de vez en cuando. Si notas pequeños calambres en las piernas levántate y camino durante un rato hasta que se te pase.
  • Evitar la ropa estrecha: presionar las piernas o la cintura con unos pantalones demasiado ajustados empeora considerablemente tu circulación. Tenlo en cuenta a la hora de comprarte ropa e intenta buscar aquellas con las que tengas más flexibilidad.
  • Beber mucha agua: para poder eliminar todos los líquidos que te sobran es necesario beber mucha agua. Se aconseja beber al menos 2 litros de agua al día para poder notar sus beneficios y mejorar en calidad de vida.
  • Comer menos carne: no debe desaparecer de tu dieta, pero tampoco se puede convertir en la base de tu alimentación. La carne contiene grasas animales que generan residuos indeseables en tu cuerpo. Aprende a controlar las cantidades de carne que comes a la semana.
  • Cuidado con la sal: la ingesta excesiva de sodio empeora tu circulación sanguínea. Se recomienda usar siempre sal marina ya que es menos perjudicial.
  • Potasio: en cambio, el potasio ayuda a eliminar el exceso de líquidos en tu cuerpo. Entre los alimentos ricos en potasio se encuentran el arroz integral, los cereales integrales, el germen de trigo, el aguacate, todas las frutas frescas, las ciruelas o las pasas.
  • Vitamina E: para una mejor circulación sanguínea es fundamental que los alimentos con vitamina E estén muy presentes en tu dieta. Algunos de ellos son los cacahuetes, las olivas, el salmón, el atún, la ternera, los huevos, el pollo y todos los derivados de la leche.
  • Otros alimentos beneficiosos: el aceite de oliva, las nueces, la miel, las hortalizas y las verduras también ayudan a mejorar tu circulación sanguínea. En cuanto a la dieta, debemos incluir alimentos ricos en magnesio, calcio, vitaminas E, K y C. Por otra parte, los alimentos picantes como la cayena, curry, canela, pimienta pueden aumentar la frecuencia cardíaca, de forma que fluya más sangre a los pies. Además, debemos evitar los productos lácteos, ya que aumentan esta sensación de frío , y la cafeína , que comprime los vasos sanguíneos. La deshidratación también puede enfriar los pies, por lo que el consumo regular de agua será beneficioso.

la basura es un recurso


la basura es basura porque esta revuelta. si se separa no es basura, es plástico, papel, material orgánico, aluminio,etc. todo valioso y caro de producir. un problema (solución) es que el impacto depende de que todos participemos y existan mecanismo de reciclaje









la basura es basura porque esta revuelta. si se separa no es basura, es plástico, papel, material orgánico, aluminio,etc. todo valioso y caro de producir. un problema (solución) es que el impacto depende de que todos participemos y existan mecanismo de reciclaje

The Gaia hypothesis

The Gaia hypothesis, also known as Gaia theory or Gaia principle, proposes that all organisms and their inorganic surroundings on Earth are closely integrated to form a single and self-regulating complex system, maintaining the conditions for life on the planet.

The scientific investigation of the Gaia hypothesis focuses on observing how the biosphere and the evolution of life forms contribute to the stability of global temperature, ocean salinity, oxygen in the atmosphere and other factors of habitability in a preferred homeostasis. The Gaia hypothesis was formulated by the chemist James Lovelock and co-developed by the microbiologist Lynn Margulis in the 1970s. Initially received with hostility by the scientific community, it is now studied in the disciplines of geophysiology and Earth system science, and some of its principles have been adopted in fields like biogeochemistry and systems ecology. This ecological hypothesis has also inspired analogies and various interpretations in social sciences, politics, and religion under a vague philosophy and movement.

Since life started on Earth, the energy provided by the Sun has increased by 25% to 30%;[8] however, the surface temperature of the planet has remained within the levels of habitability, reaching quite regular low and high margins. Lovelock has also hypothesised that methanogens produced elevated levels of methane in the early atmosphere, giving a view similar to that found in petrochemical smog, similar in some respects to the atmosphere on Titan.[9] This, he suggests tended to screen out ultraviolet until the formation of the ozone screen, maintaining a degree of homeostasis. The Snowball Earth[10] research, as a result of «oxygen shocks» and reduced methane levels, that led during the Huronian, Sturtian and Marinoan/Varanger Ice Ages the world to very nearly become a solid «snowball» contradicts the Gaia hypothesis somewhat, although the ending of these Cryogenian periods through bio-geophysiological processes accords well with Lovelock’s theory.

Processing of the greenhouse gas CO2, explained below, plays a critical role in the maintenance of the Earth temperature within the limits of habitability.

The CLAW hypothesis, inspired by the Gaia theory, proposes a feedback loop that operates between ocean ecosystems and the Earth‘s climate.[11] The hypothesis specifically proposes that particular phytoplankton that produce dimethyl sulfide are responsive to variations in climate forcing, and that these responses lead to a negative feedback loop that acts to stabilise the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Currently this Gaian homeostatic balance is being pushed by the increase of human population and the impact of their activities to the environment. The multiplication of greenhouse gases may cause a turn of Gaia’s negative feedbacks into homeostatic positive feedback. According to Lovelock, this could bring an accelerated global warming and mass human mortality.

The importance of the large number of species in an ecosystem, led to two sets of views about the role played by biodiversity in the stability of ecosystems in Gaia theory. In one school of thought labelled the «species redundancy» hypothesis, proposed by Australian ecologist Brian Walker, most species are seen as having little contribution overall in the stability, comparable to the passengers in an aeroplane who play little role in its successful flight. The hypothesis leads to the conclusion that only a few key species are necessary for a healthy ecosystem. The «rivet-popper» hypothesis put forth by Paul R. Ehrlich and his wife Anne H. Ehrlich, compares each species forming part of an ecosystem as a rivet on the aeroplane (represented by the ecosystem). The progressive loss of species mirrors the progressive loss of rivets from the plane, weakening it till it is no longer sustainable and crashes.[14]

Later extensions of the Daisyworld simulation which included rabbits, foxes and other species, led to a surprising finding that the larger the number of species, the greater the improving effects on the entire planet (i.e., the temperature regulation was improved). It also showed that the system was robust and stable even when perturbed. Daisyworld simulations where environmental changes were stable gradually became less diverse over time; in contrast gentle perturbations led to bursts of species richness. These findings lent support to the idea that biodiversity is valuable.[15]

This finding was later proved in a eleven-year old study of the factors species composition, dynamics and diversity in successional and native grasslands in Minnesota by David Tilman and John A. Downing wherein they discovered that «primary productivity in more diverse plant communities is more resistant to, and recovers more fully from, a major drought». They go on to add «Our results support the diversity stability hypothesis but not the alternative hypothesis that most species are functionally redundant

Corporate Knights presents Dr. James Lovelock, originator of The Gaia Hypothesis (also known as Gaia Theory), discussing the need for human adaptation and survival in a coming era of massive environmental change due to global heating. Part 1 in a series of 5 as Dr. Lovelock lectures on his latest book, «The Vanishing Face of Gaia».

Stay tuned to www.corporateknights.ca for Episodes 2-5. Part 2 will be available July 2.

Videography & Editing by Jon-Erik Lappano, Editorial Assistant.


Millions without power as stifling heat wave hammers eastern US

The eastern U.S. on Monday was hammered by the fourth consecutive day of stifling heat after a weekend of violent storms that killed 15 people and knocked out power to millions.
More than 2 million people were still without power Monday morning, with the biggest concentration of outages in the Washington, D.C. area.
«Hot and hotter will continue to be the story from the plains to the Atlantic Coast for the next few days,» the National Weather Service said.
Monday morning brought another grim challenge when many embarked on a difficult commute over roads with darkened stoplights.


Weather is specific events, climate is the long-term pattern. Catastrophes like the forest fire in Colorado that has expelled 32,000 people from their homes are the results of weather. But long-term climate change can increase the likelihood of such events. That is, we may have a big, wet snow in Colorado some winter in the near future. But you have to average it with all the winters like the past one, relatively warm and dry, and the latter will have the edge over time if we go on with our high-carbon ways.

Over the coming decades, the American Southwest will become drier and warmer as a result of all the carbon dioxide and soot that the US, China and other industrial societies are dumping into the atmosphere.
Therefore there will be more forest fires like the one in Colorado. And, as Deborah Zabarenko writes for Reuters, the scientific evidence on this dim future is building up.

Zabarenko follows up on a recent article in the journal Ecosphere, which lays out the case, and I was delighted to find is available in full text on the Web.

Professor Max A. Moritz at the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California, Berkeley and his colleagues find the long-term probability of increase of forest fires in the American southwest is high.

Texas and Arizona are among those states at risk — further evidence that the Red States that engage in active climate change denial are committing suicide. I suspect most Coloradans know exactly what is happening to them and why, and my heart goes out to them.


Mexico –
Mixteca Region (Oaxaca) –
Fighting Desertification with Community Reforestation and Sustainable Agriculture

Author: David Nuñez and Gerry Marten

The region known as La Mixteca northeast of the City of Oaxaca looks like a desert, though in the past it was covered with forest. The desolate landscape and desertification process are the result of generations of bad land-use practices. The causes that converted forests into wastelands are many and complex. Some say the tradition of overexploiting natural resources extends back to the days of the Aztecs, who demanded heavy tribute from the local Mixtec population. During the centuries of Spanish colonization, the construction of massive missions required large amounts of lumber, and goats were introduced into an already degraded landscape. The region became a corridor for driving goats to market, and excessive grazing prevented the recovery of forests that were logged for railroad ties, cleared for agriculture expansion, or (mainly oaks) cut for firewood and charcoal – the primary fuel in the region’s rural communities to this day.

Centuries of degradation were exacerbated during the second half of the Twentieth Century by the Mexican government’s agrarian policy and Green Revolution technology. Government policies offered credit only to cultivate monoculture cash crops, driving the ancient and ecologically sustainable milpa system into virtual extinction. Monocultures exhausted the soil and exposed it to erosion. The Green Revolution brought chemical fertilizers, which boosted crop yields, but the benefits were short-lived. Soil erosion and degradation continued, compelling farmers to use ever-increasing amounts of fertilizers. Depleted soils and high fertilizer costs forced farmers to abandon their fields, extending their agriculture into newly clear-cut lands. Deforestation and erosion accelerated, and today the region suffers one of the highest rates of erosion on the planet. It is one of the poorest regions in Mexico, unable to produce enough to feed itself, and has one of the nation’s highest rates of emigration.

Deforestation and erosion make the Mixtec Highland look like a desert
Deforestation and erosion make the Mixtec Highland look like a desert

The Solutions

But recently this region received international attention for doing things right. In 2008, Jesús León Santos and the Center for Integral Farmer Development (CEDICAM) received the Goldman Environmental Prize for their work on reforestation, soil conservation, and sustainable agriculture.

Their story begins in the early 1980s, when a group of Guatemalan refugees fleeing from that country’s civil war settled in Mexico’s Mixteca region with assistance from the American nonprofit organization World Neighbors. Disturbed by the erosion and desertification, the Guatemalans began sharing their soil conservation and sustainable agriculture techniques with the local population, aided by the Mexican nonprofit organization CETAMEX (Mexican Center for Appropriate Technologies).

Alfonso López López, a farmer and current president of CEDICAM, recalls how his father would berate him for “wasting time with those Guatemalans,” and how he had to run off on his motorcycle to attend their workshops. But it was these foreigners who set in motion the process of restoring soil and forests by sharing their experience. In the beginning it wasn’t an easy sell.

One of the first successes was persuading a few farmers to plant their beans in rows, rather than broadcasting the seeds at random. With yields as much as five times better than that of friends and neighbors, they soon convinced their communities that what the Guatemalans offered was no waste of time. In 1988 the catholic parish of Nochixtlán got involved and supported these efforts by offering office space. Parish religious educators, mostly female, promoted nutrition and health education in rural communities alongside CETAMEX staff. Years later, two of these women would go on to become CEDICAM’s first female employees.

When problems surfaced after several years between the workers and leadership at CETAMEX, World Neighbors sponsored the formation of a new farmer-led organization. Under the leadership of Jesús León Santos, these farmers pooled their savings and purchased a plot of land just outside Nochixtlán which would become their headquarters, allowing them to move out of the parish offices and achieve greater autonomy. By 1997 the transition was complete, and the farmers had created CEDICAM, an organization to call their own. CEDICAM expanded its work along three axes:

  • reforestation and soil conservation;
  • sustainable agriculture;
  • nutrition and health.
Facilities of the Center for Integral Farmer Development in Nochixtlán, Oaxaca
Facilities of the Center for Integral Farmer Development (CEDICAM) in Nochixtlán, Oaxaca

Sustainable Agriculture

Food self-sufficiency has been CEDICAM’s central theme. The Mixteca region imports much of its food, but the communities in which CEDICAM is active have been able to improve their crop yields enough to move beyond subsistence to producing a surplus and creating a market for locally grown produce. This has been achieved by:

  • reviving the traditional milpa farming system;
  • composting and using “green manures” as organic fertilizers;
  • reducing dependence on chemical pesticides;
  • selecting seeds to improve local varieties of corn;
  • marketing their crops as “organic.”

The traditional milpa farming system is a polyculture with several complimentary crops mixed together in the same field. The most basic arrangement is squash, corn, and beans. The corn begins to grow just as the squash dies off. The beans use corn stalks as poles and peak just as the corn stalks are drying out. Many other crops can be included: for example, chilies, sweet potatoes, tomatillo, and chayote.
This crop mixture helps conserve soil fertility; it is less vulnerable to pests that can wreak havoc in monocultures; and it provides a more balanced diet for the farmer’s family. In addition to milpa farming, greenhouses have been built to grow vegetables, allowing families to sell their excess produce on the market.

Most plowing in this impoverished region is still done with oxen. CEDICAM promotes what is known locally as “Egyptian” plowing, which consists of opening the soil without turning it over. Egyptian plowing, which is particularly adapted to semi-arid landscapes, reduces soil erosion and conserves soil moisture by decreasing water evaporation from the soil.

A comprehensive waste management program has been developed to produce organic fertilizers. Before, animal manure was underutilized because livestock were simply tethered in fields to drop their manure there. By penning livestock into hard-floor corrals, manure could be concentrated and composted to provide higher quality fertilizer.

The bokashi technique, first developed in Japan, has been adapted successfully to local conditions and produces high quality compost in just 2-3 weeks. The keys to bokashi are inoculation with high-performance yeast and bacteria to ferment the waste and addition of sugars to augment the fermentation, generating high temperatures that accelerate the process even further.

Worm-composting has also been introduced successfully, particularly among women who use it primarily in greenhouses and family gardens. In addition to using the compost, the “juice” from worm-composting is collected in discarded plastic bottles for later use to fertilize individual plants. Farmers overcome the expense of investing in worms by borrowing a kilogram of fresh worms from CEDICAM and returning worms a year later.

Jesús León Santos and his daughter Diana with the compost at their farm
Jesús León Santos (founder of CEDICAM) and his daughter Diana with the compost at their farm

More recently CEDICAM has begun promoting the use of “green manures,” grain and legume crops that are worked into the soil as natural fertilizers. Crops grown for green manure include peas, fava beans, mustard, wheat, and barley. A weed locally called “white clover” (trébol blanco) can be grown on even the poorest soils because it uses symbiotic bacteria to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. It provides a way to improve the soil fertility in fields with crops by applying green manure produced on soils that are not fit for agriculture. At first farmers had trouble incorporating the green manure into the soil, as they could not afford heavy machinery for tilling and their traditional oxen-plows could not handle the job. Lawnmowers and weed-whackers now do the job, and the trimmings are simply left to decompose on the ground. This ground cover also helps preserve soil moisture.

All these improvements have allowed farmers to reduce and even eliminate their use of chemical fertilizers. They have achieved similar success along the pesticide front. Extracts from Mexican marigold, common rue, chili and garlic, as well as soap solutions, are used to repel pests. A soil fungus (Beauveria bassiana), which is pathogenic to insects, has also been recruited as a biological agent to fight insect pests. Spores can be applied to crops as either a solution or powder, though care must be taken not to treat flowers visited by pollinating insects. These natural methods have enabled farmers to cut back and even eliminate the use of chemical pesticides, allowing them to market their produce as “organic.”

Another important feature of sustainable farming is proper seed selection, particularly for corn. The communities served by CEDICAM have been very successful. Mexico is the birthplace of corn, and Oaxaca is home to dozens of local varieties of different colors, shapes, sizes, and uses. CEDICAM has been instrumental in teaching farmers how to continually improve yields by selecting for the best seeds. Plants are chosen from the center of the field, and not the edges, to avoid genetic contamination from nearby plots. Selection criteria include:

  • plant resistance with regard to drought, freezing, lodging, storage, pests, and disease;
  • productivity (number of ears, ear size, kernel size);
  • final use (eat fresh, make corn meal, or feed animals).

Selected seeds are planted separately, and a second round of selection is made looking for the largest and healthiest ears (i.e., no insect or disease damage) and at least 12 rows of kernels in straight rows. In this way each farm is a living laboratory in which varieties adapted to varied conditions of weather, soil, and cultural preference are constantly being improved. With proper selection and care, these local varieties are as productive as imported hybrid seeds. Discarded plastic bottles are used to store selected seeds, allowing farmers to have their own seed bank and keep it safe from vermin. These varieties are then shared and traded in informal networks of markets and fairs.

Maize seed storage
Maize seed storage

All these advancements have been achieved through a comprehensive training program called “Farmer to Farmer,” which aims to lead by example and convince with results. From the very beginning CEDICAM decided to be a farmers’ organization. Agronomists and other “experts” were deliberately excluded due to prior negative experiences with government officials.

Working horizontally and sharing in the work, farmers are persuaded to dedicate a section of their land to the new techniques, so that before-and-after comparisons can be made. Inspired by higher yields, savings, and improved livelihoods, the most successful farmers are recruited into sharing their experiences with their neighbors. These efforts are carried out by two types of workers: promoters and facilitators. Promoters have model plots of their own and participate in meetings, workshops, and training sessions. Facilitators help identify promoters, offer logistic support for meetings and workshops, and seek out and create educational materials. In this way CEDICAM leads by example, through its constant presence in communities, sharing in the hardships as well as the rewards. It has a permanent presence in 12 farming villages and more informal arrangements with another 30 communities.

Soil Conservation

But as impressive as these achievements have been, what has really brought international attention has been CEDICAM’s struggle against soil erosion, which has developed along two fronts – soil conservation and reforestation.

The construction of containment ditches along contours on the hillsides is one of the most visible and effective projects. The ditches have a double function: retaining water and prevent soil erosion. They capture rainwater as it flows down a hill, channeling the water through the soil to supply crops downhill from each ditch. The ditches keep topsoil from washing away because they reduce the flow of water down the hills, and because soil loosened by rain is trapped in a ditch. Construction of these ditches is an enormous undertaking, requiring an immense quantity of manual labor.

Each meter-long section of a 60 cm wide x 60 cm deep ditch can recover up to 360 liters when it rains. Dozens of kilometers of ditches are built every year, and so far the total is hundreds of kilometers. Contour ditches are laid out with a device first introduced by the Guatemalans and known as the “A”. It consists of two long wooden poles forming an A-frame that is used to mark out the contours. Initially the ditches were dug by hand, relying on the indigenous tradition of community service known locally as tequio, in which all members of the community are expected to participate.

The success of the containment ditches was quickly evident in the recovery of previously dry springs and streams, and even in the birth of brand new springs. Now the federal government, through the National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR), has adopted this technique and taken over the construction of containment ditches with heavy machinery. The success of this project has inspired CEDICAM to implement other water management projects, such as the construction of rainwater cisterns to supply water to their greenhouses.


Contour ditch system for capturing rainwater and soil on a slope in Telantongo, Oaxaca

Reforestation

Even more impressive has been the reforestation project. While many of CEDICAM’s other projects had immediate and obvious benefits, reforestation is a longer-term investment that requires more faith. When they first began, there was much resistance because trees take years to grow. It was not easy to convince people to invest their work in something that might never benefit them directly. Some were willing to plant fruit trees but not other kinds of trees. At first, the few people who were persuaded planted only one or two trees, maybe five. With time, the ready availability of limbs for firewood was key in convincing the populace that non-fruit trees were also worth planting.

 Having no prior experience with raising trees, CEDICAM had to proceed by trial and error, and there were some missteps along the way. At the beginning, eucalyptus and ironwood seedlings provided by government nurseries proved inadequate to the soils and climate of the Mixteca. Following CETAMEX founder Angel Roldán’s advice, farmers started looking for species indigenous to the region and settled on a pine (Pinus oaxacana) known locally as ocote, and an alder known locally as elite (Alnus acuminata). The group visited several existing nurseries to learn proper techniques before establishing its own nursery, which now produces over 30,000 seedlings per year. CEDICAM estimates over 4 million trees have been planted so far.

The indigenous pines and alders grow quickly. The alder is particularly impressive because it fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere and thrives on even the poorest soils. It is excellent at improving the soils, since its leaf fall deposits so much nitrogen-rich organic matter on the ground. In a grove of 20-year-old alders, we were able to dig 20-30 cm deep in black moist earth, while only a few meters away outside the grove there was nothing but bare rock.

Gerry Marten checks out a 20-year-old elite (Alnus acuminata) grove. Note the bare ground in the background outside the grove.
Soil formed from the litter beneath an alder tree | Eroded soil a few meters outside the alder grove
Left: Soil formed from the litter beneath an alder tree (Alnus acuminata)
Right: Eroded soil a few meters outside the alder grove

Because these trees grow so quickly, limbs can be cut for firewood without damaging the trees. This was perhaps the most convincing aspect of the reforestation project for the local people, since previously they had to spend a lot of time traveling ever-increasing distances in search of retreating firewood sources. Now these communities have a sustainable source of firewood close at hand, making it unnecessary to cut many trees in the rest of the landscape. To reduce firewood demand, CEDICAM has also worked to promote the adoption of efficient, wood-saving stoves, which also improve the health of families by burning cleaner and reducing smoke inhalation in the kitchen (see the Patsari Stove story).

For reforestation to be successful, it was necessary to exclude goats from reforested areas, a move that was not welcomed by the owners of goat herds. But with the aid of prior experience, the necessary zoning was agreed upon, and goats have slowly been replaced with sheep, whose grazing is a bit more selective and less destructive.

A limitation of these fast-growing trees is that they tend to have short lives. The first trees, which were planted in the mid 1980s, are starting to die out. This suggests a need to diversify the reforestation with slow-growing species as well. The good news is that the fast-growing trees are now seen in places where none were planted, suggesting that nature has begun to take over their propagation. Although reforestation will be a long process, these first steps have been successful enough to encourage people to carry the reforestation further.

Social Impact

CEDICAM projects have also improved the status of women. At first women were not even allowed in the farmers’ organizational and training workshops, but now women are prominent in all CEDICAM activities, including community organizing and technical assistance to farmers in the field. The change has been due in part to pressure by international donors interested in gender equality, but it was really more of a response to the realities of these communities, where high levels of emigration, particularly among young men, have forced women to take on a broader role in economic activities.

These communities have also seen changes in the way they organize and regulate land use. Communal lands in Mexico are usually divided into family plots for individual use. Common areas not suited for agriculture are used for grazing, firewood collection, and charcoal production. The common areas are particularly vulnerable to Tragedy-of-the-Commons in the absence of strict rules for their use, and one of the first side-effects of CEDICAM’s work has been the emergence of zoning and land-use rules in communities where a free-for-all attitude had previously been the norm. Rules are decided at community assemblies. Examples include prohibiting the harvest of oaks for charcoal production, banning grazing from reforested areas, and imposing heavy fines on offenders.

The Lessons

A conspicuous feature of the turnabout from decline to restoration has been the conversion of vicious cycles into virtuous cycles. Although the causes of environmental decline in the Mixteca are complex, we can identify the introduction of goat-herding into an already fragile ecosystem as the “negative tipping point” that set decline in motion. It was overgrazing by goats that interrupted nature’s regenerative powers, starting a vicious cycle in which goats degraded the land, the land was incapable of supporting other uses, goat herding increased, and the land was degraded even more. The government’s agrarian policy and the use of chemical fertilizers were responses to the crisis of erosion, land degradation, and deforestation, but they proved counterproductive in the long run.

We can identify the Guatemalan refugees – and more specifically their advice on farming and soil conservation methods and the support by World Neighbors and CETAMEX – as the positive tipping point, the “EcoTipping Point,” which set in motion a gradual process of environmental restoration and agricultural recovery. Demonstrating that bean yields could be improved dramatically by planting in rows was the first step towards food self-sufficiency. This inspired farmers to embark on soil conservation measures (e.g., contour ditches) and tree planting, which reversed the vicious cycle of land degradation. The vicious cycle was transformed into a “virtuous cycle” in which the social and environmental forces that had driven decline were driving restoration. Further success gave people the experience and confidence to undertake additional actions to further improve their waste management, their soils, their landscape, their diet, and their quality of life.

How did CEDICAM communities actually manage to achieve this? What were the ingredients for their success? Their story displays the same key ingredients for success that are prominent in other EcoTipping Point success stories:

Outside stimulation and facilitation. A success story typically begins when people from outside a community stimulate activate a shared community awareness about its problems – how the situation is changing and what seems to be responsible – and provide fresh ideas for possible actions to deal with it. The Guatemalan refugees showed the Mixtec farmers a different way of doing things, encouraging the farmers to confront their problems. While CEDICAM’s accomplishments have come primarily from the human and financial resources of the people in the region, organizational and financial assistance at key points along the way – from nonprofit organizations such as Bread for the World, Catholic Relief Services, Maryknoll, and the Rotary Club International – have also made a difference.

Strong local democratic institutions and enduring commitment of local leadership. The experience of Oaxaca’s Mixteca region shows how lasting results can come from below, from the grassroots of society. They have not been imposed by government policies, but rather achieved through the self-evaluation, creativity, broad-based decisions, and manpower of an independent community making the best of its own resources. The strength of democratic institutions in the indigenous communities of the Mixteca region has allowed them to embark on projects that are conceived and supported by the same people who must implement them. The traditional tequio community service system is a particularly noteworthy expression of this communal democracy. Building on the vitality of strong community participation, CEDICAM’s success has come from decades of commitment and hard work by Jesús León Santos and his colleagues.

Coadaption between social system and ecosystem. Success depends on technology appropriate to the local environment and the corresponding social organization for putting the technology effectively into use. Environmental and social gains proceed together. In addition to the tequio, which was so readily adapted to rescuing the landscape and reviving traditional agriculture, we find in CEDICAM communities other social institutions that evolved with the project. One is the “Farmer to Farmer” methodology which seeks to train neighbors by treating them as equals. This approach contrasts with government strategies which often seek to impose solutions from above, solutions that not only fail but often are counterproductive. Another important social adaptation has been the change in the role of women and how women’s work is valued. With regards to ecosystem adaptation, the land has responded positively to reforestation and changes in agricultural methods. Higher crop yields are the most obvious ecosystem response, but soil fertility is also enhanced where crops are mixed and rotated.

“Letting nature do the work”. Micro-managing the environment is beyond human capacity. Effective problem solving utilizes nature’s healing powers for restoration. In the Mixteca region, trees are starting to grow where they were never planted. Springs and rivers that had dried up have come back to life .CEDICAM’s production of natural fertilizers reduced the need for chemical fertilizers, allowing nature to maintain soil fertility. The milpa system is environmentally sustainable because its multi-species polyculture is a mimic of nature.

Transforming waste into resources. What appears to be “waste” – such as degraded land, abandoned buildings, garbage, or marginalized people – is mobilized and transformed into valued social or material capital. Because the Mixteca region is so poor, CEDICAM has had no choice but to make the fullest use of any available resources. It has recycled agricultural and other wastes into compost to improve the soils. Refugees are by definition unwanted in their homeland. They are in a way “discarded people”, which in this case were valued and appreciated in their adoptive land.

Rapid results. Quick «payback» from a community’s efforts helps to mobilize commitment to the effort. Once positive results begin cascading through a community and the environment, normal social, economic, and political processes reinforce the benefits from there. For farmers in the Mixteca region, higher yields from planting beans in rows brought tangible benefits to farmers within a matter of months, conveying a message that they could improve their lives with prudent experimentation. The construction of contour containment ditches on the hillsides also had rapid and dramatic consequences, when dry springs were brought back to life. The benefits from reforestation were slower, but enthusiasm for reforestation grew when people realized they no longer had to travel long distances in search of firewood.

Powerful symbols. Symbols can help to consolidate community action. Food self-sufficiency can be considered a powerful symbol in the Mixteca experience because it summarizes precisely the reason why these changes began and continue to happen. Greater agricultural yields have not only improved the family diet, they have improved the local economy. Food self-sufficiency has become a source of pride, as agricultural renewal offers new opportunities for youth who previously had no choice but to move away from the region to find work. Perhaps most important are symbols of cultural transformation that gave hope and pride to communities that knew only despair in the past. In a land that “didn’t even grow thorns,” Jesús León Santos called our attention to the birdsongs, telling us there were none when he was young. To us this is the perfect symbol of the region’s renewal.

Overcoming social obstacles. Today’s complex society can present numerous obstacles to positive change. The Mixteca experience offers examples of how such obstacles were overcome.

  • The tequio community service system surmounted a problem so common elsewhere – that people “don’t have time” to contribute to the social and environmental commons.
  • CEDICAM has overcome obstacles that arise when people feel threatened by dramatic change. For example, when reforestation efforts began, it was necessary to satisfy goat herders who objected to exclusion from areas with tree seedlings.
  • There have been risks of entanglement with political and religious divisions in the state of Oaxaca, but CEDICAM’s neutral policy has kept it out of those conflicts.
  • The autonomy and relative simplicity of the region’s indigenous communities has enabled them to proceed with what makes sense, independent of widespread and often crippling dysfunction in the mainstream society.
  • Self-sufficiency has gone hand-in-hand with autonomy. Although external financial support has been significant, CEDICAM is basically a group of peasants who are transforming their communities and giving the nation, and the world, an example of how to get things done without depending heavily on outside resources.

Social and ecological diversity. Greater diversity offers more choices and more opportunities that some of the choices will be good ones.

  • By accepting the Guatemalans and following their example, the Mixtec communities increased their social diversity.
  • CEDICAM has worked with government agencies and collaborated with universities in Mexico and abroad.
  • The women in indigenous communities evolved a greater diversity of roles.

All these experiences have expanded the social universe and diversity of choices in the Mixteca.
Social and ecological memory. Drawing upon the past can be a particularly significant source of diversity. Although some of the techniques employed by CEDICAM are introduced, many are not new. They are traditional practices that have stood the test of time. They were lost, and now they are being recovered. Though the landscape of the Mixteca region appears to be a wasteland, it is capable of producing food and growing forests with proper care. This productive capacity had not been lost as much as it had been forgotten, and it is now being “remembered” with proper attention. By reviving the traditional milpa the diversity of crops that had been lost to monoculture has been restored. As for reforestation, native trees reflected an evolutionary memory that provided the right species for local conditions after initial efforts with exotic species were unsuccessful.

Building resilience. Resilience is the ability to withstand unexpected surprises that threaten to make things worse. It is essential for locking in the gains from social and environmental restoration. The key to resilience is adaptability. The founders of CEDICAM began to forge a culture of resilience when they responded to the departure of CETAMEX by forming their own organization. Since then, they have crafted their strategy to nurture resilience at every step of the way. Crop diversification increases food security, as do soil conservation measures. The high rate of emigration, particularly among young men, could have stifled efforts for positive change, but women have filled the void created by this lack of manpower.” Success breeds success.” The community’s organization, experience, and confidence have strengthened its capacity for adaptation, innovation, and respond effectively to future threats. With their dedication, intelligence, and generosity, the people of the Mixteca region should continue to provide an inspiring example for many years to come.

Acknowledgments

We wish to thank Jesús León Santos, and his family, for showing us around the region; current CEDICAM president Alfonso Eugenio Lopéz Lopéz and CEDICAM Facilitator Pedro Velasco Cruz for taking the time to talk to us; and the rest of the CEDICAM for working on the projects we were able to witness.

References



The Gaia hypothesis, also known as Gaia theory or Gaia principle, proposes that all organisms and their inorganic surroundings on Earth are closely integrated to form a single and self-regulating complex system, maintaining the conditions for life on the planet.

The scientific investigation of the Gaia hypothesis focuses on observing how the biosphere and the evolution of life forms contribute to the stability of global temperature, ocean salinity, oxygen in the atmosphere and other factors of habitability in a preferred homeostasis. The Gaia hypothesis was formulated by the chemist James Lovelock and co-developed by the microbiologist Lynn Margulis in the 1970s. Initially received with hostility by the scientific community, it is now studied in the disciplines of geophysiology and Earth system science, and some of its principles have been adopted in fields like biogeochemistry and systems ecology. This ecological hypothesis has also inspired analogies and various interpretations in social sciences, politics, and religion under a vague philosophy and movement.



Since life started on Earth, the energy provided by the Sun has increased by 25% to 30%;[8] however, the surface temperature of the planet has remained within the levels of habitability, reaching quite regular low and high margins. Lovelock has also hypothesised that methanogens produced elevated levels of methane in the early atmosphere, giving a view similar to that found in petrochemical smog, similar in some respects to the atmosphere on Titan.[9] This, he suggests tended to screen out ultraviolet until the formation of the ozone screen, maintaining a degree of homeostasis. The Snowball Earth[10] research, as a result of "oxygen shocks" and reduced methane levels, that led during the Huronian, Sturtian and Marinoan/Varanger Ice Ages the world to very nearly become a solid "snowball" contradicts the Gaia hypothesis somewhat, although the ending of these Cryogenian periods through bio-geophysiological processes accords well with Lovelock's theory.

Processing of the greenhouse gas CO2, explained below, plays a critical role in the maintenance of the Earth temperature within the limits of habitability.

The CLAW hypothesis, inspired by the Gaia theory, proposes a feedback loop that operates between ocean ecosystems and the Earth's climate.[11] The hypothesis specifically proposes that particular phytoplankton that produce dimethyl sulfide are responsive to variations in climate forcing, and that these responses lead to a negative feedback loop that acts to stabilise the temperature of the Earth's atmosphere.

Currently this Gaian homeostatic balance is being pushed by the increase of human population and the impact of their activities to the environment. The multiplication of greenhouse gases may cause a turn of Gaia's negative feedbacks into homeostatic positive feedback. According to Lovelock, this could bring an accelerated global warming and mass human mortality.


The importance of the large number of species in an ecosystem, led to two sets of views about the role played by biodiversity in the stability of ecosystems in Gaia theory. In one school of thought labelled the "species redundancy" hypothesis, proposed by Australian ecologist Brian Walker, most species are seen as having little contribution overall in the stability, comparable to the passengers in an aeroplane who play little role in its successful flight. The hypothesis leads to the conclusion that only a few key species are necessary for a healthy ecosystem. The "rivet-popper" hypothesis put forth by Paul R. Ehrlich and his wife Anne H. Ehrlich, compares each species forming part of an ecosystem as a rivet on the aeroplane (represented by the ecosystem). The progressive loss of species mirrors the progressive loss of rivets from the plane, weakening it till it is no longer sustainable and crashes.[14]

Later extensions of the Daisyworld simulation which included rabbits, foxes and other species, led to a surprising finding that the larger the number of species, the greater the improving effects on the entire planet (i.e., the temperature regulation was improved). It also showed that the system was robust and stable even when perturbed. Daisyworld simulations where environmental changes were stable gradually became less diverse over time; in contrast gentle perturbations led to bursts of species richness. These findings lent support to the idea that biodiversity is valuable.[15]

This finding was later proved in a eleven-year old study of the factors species composition, dynamics and diversity in successional and native grasslands in Minnesota by David Tilman and John A. Downing wherein they discovered that "primary productivity in more diverse plant communities is more resistant to, and recovers more fully from, a major drought". They go on to add "Our results support the diversity stability hypothesis but not the alternative hypothesis that most species are functionally redundant



Corporate Knights presents Dr. James Lovelock, originator of The Gaia Hypothesis (also known as Gaia Theory), discussing the need for human adaptation and survival in a coming era of massive environmental change due to global heating. Part 1 in a series of 5 as Dr. Lovelock lectures on his latest book, "The Vanishing Face of Gaia".

Stay tuned to www.corporateknights.ca for Episodes 2-5. Part 2 will be available July 2.

Videography & Editing by Jon-Erik Lappano, Editorial Assistant.
















Millions without power as stifling heat wave hammers eastern US


The eastern U.S. on Monday was hammered by the fourth consecutive day of stifling heat after a weekend of violent storms that killed 15 people and knocked out power to millions.
More than 2 million people were still without power Monday morning, with the biggest concentration of outages in the Washington, D.C. area.
"Hot and hotter will continue to be the story from the plains to the Atlantic Coast for the next few days," the National Weather Service said.
Monday morning brought another grim challenge when many embarked on a difficult commute over roads with darkened stoplights.







Weather is specific events, climate is the long-term pattern. Catastrophes like the forest fire in Colorado that has expelled 32,000 people from their homes are the results of weather. But long-term climate change can increase the likelihood of such events. That is, we may have a big, wet snow in Colorado some winter in the near future. But you have to average it with all the winters like the past one, relatively warm and dry, and the latter will have the edge over time if we go on with our high-carbon ways.

Over the coming decades, the American Southwest will become drier and warmer as a result of all the carbon dioxide and soot that the US, China and other industrial societies are dumping into the atmosphere.
Therefore there will be more forest fires like the one in Colorado. And, as Deborah Zabarenko writes for Reuters, the scientific evidence on this dim future is building up.

Zabarenko follows up on a recent article in the journal Ecosphere, which lays out the case, and I was delighted to find is available in full text on the Web.

Professor Max A. Moritz at the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California, Berkeley and his colleagues find the long-term probability of increase of forest fires in the American southwest is high.

Texas and Arizona are among those states at risk — further evidence that the Red States that engage in active climate change denial are committing suicide. I suspect most Coloradans know exactly what is happening to them and why, and my heart goes out to them.




Mexico -
Mixteca Region (Oaxaca) –
Fighting Desertification with Community Reforestation and Sustainable Agriculture


Author: David Nuñez and Gerry Marten


The region known as La Mixteca northeast of the City of Oaxaca looks like a desert, though in the past it was covered with forest. The desolate landscape and desertification process are the result of generations of bad land-use practices. The causes that converted forests into wastelands are many and complex. Some say the tradition of overexploiting natural resources extends back to the days of the Aztecs, who demanded heavy tribute from the local Mixtec population. During the centuries of Spanish colonization, the construction of massive missions required large amounts of lumber, and goats were introduced into an already degraded landscape. The region became a corridor for driving goats to market, and excessive grazing prevented the recovery of forests that were logged for railroad ties, cleared for agriculture expansion, or (mainly oaks) cut for firewood and charcoal – the primary fuel in the region’s rural communities to this day.

Centuries of degradation were exacerbated during the second half of the Twentieth Century by the Mexican government’s agrarian policy and Green Revolution technology. Government policies offered credit only to cultivate monoculture cash crops, driving the ancient and ecologically sustainable milpa system into virtual extinction. Monocultures exhausted the soil and exposed it to erosion. The Green Revolution brought chemical fertilizers, which boosted crop yields, but the benefits were short-lived. Soil erosion and degradation continued, compelling farmers to use ever-increasing amounts of fertilizers. Depleted soils and high fertilizer costs forced farmers to abandon their fields, extending their agriculture into newly clear-cut lands. Deforestation and erosion accelerated, and today the region suffers one of the highest rates of erosion on the planet. It is one of the poorest regions in Mexico, unable to produce enough to feed itself, and has one of the nation’s highest rates of emigration.
Deforestation and erosion make the Mixtec Highland look like a desert
Deforestation and erosion make the Mixtec Highland look like a desert

The Solutions

But recently this region received international attention for doing things right. In 2008, Jesús León Santos and the Center for Integral Farmer Development (CEDICAM) received the Goldman Environmental Prize for their work on reforestation, soil conservation, and sustainable agriculture.


Their story begins in the early 1980s, when a group of Guatemalan refugees fleeing from that country’s civil war settled in Mexico’s Mixteca region with assistance from the American nonprofit organization World Neighbors. Disturbed by the erosion and desertification, the Guatemalans began sharing their soil conservation and sustainable agriculture techniques with the local population, aided by the Mexican nonprofit organization CETAMEX (Mexican Center for Appropriate Technologies).

Alfonso López López, a farmer and current president of CEDICAM, recalls how his father would berate him for “wasting time with those Guatemalans,” and how he had to run off on his motorcycle to attend their workshops. But it was these foreigners who set in motion the process of restoring soil and forests by sharing their experience. In the beginning it wasn’t an easy sell.

One of the first successes was persuading a few farmers to plant their beans in rows, rather than broadcasting the seeds at random. With yields as much as five times better than that of friends and neighbors, they soon convinced their communities that what the Guatemalans offered was no waste of time. In 1988 the catholic parish of Nochixtlán got involved and supported these efforts by offering office space. Parish religious educators, mostly female, promoted nutrition and health education in rural communities alongside CETAMEX staff. Years later, two of these women would go on to become CEDICAM’s first female employees.

When problems surfaced after several years between the workers and leadership at CETAMEX, World Neighbors sponsored the formation of a new farmer-led organization. Under the leadership of Jesús León Santos, these farmers pooled their savings and purchased a plot of land just outside Nochixtlán which would become their headquarters, allowing them to move out of the parish offices and achieve greater autonomy. By 1997 the transition was complete, and the farmers had created CEDICAM, an organization to call their own. CEDICAM expanded its work along three axes:
  • reforestation and soil conservation;
  • sustainable agriculture;
  • nutrition and health.
Facilities of the Center for Integral Farmer Development in Nochixtlán, Oaxaca
Facilities of the Center for Integral Farmer Development (CEDICAM) in Nochixtlán, Oaxaca

Sustainable Agriculture

Food self-sufficiency has been CEDICAM’s central theme. The Mixteca region imports much of its food, but the communities in which CEDICAM is active have been able to improve their crop yields enough to move beyond subsistence to producing a surplus and creating a market for locally grown produce. This has been achieved by:
  • reviving the traditional milpa farming system;
  • composting and using “green manures” as organic fertilizers;
  • reducing dependence on chemical pesticides;
  • selecting seeds to improve local varieties of corn;
  • marketing their crops as “organic.”
The traditional milpa farming system is a polyculture with several complimentary crops mixed together in the same field. The most basic arrangement is squash, corn, and beans. The corn begins to grow just as the squash dies off. The beans use corn stalks as poles and peak just as the corn stalks are drying out. Many other crops can be included: for example, chilies, sweet potatoes, tomatillo, and chayote.
This crop mixture helps conserve soil fertility; it is less vulnerable to pests that can wreak havoc in monocultures; and it provides a more balanced diet for the farmer’s family. In addition to milpa farming, greenhouses have been built to grow vegetables, allowing families to sell their excess produce on the market.

Most plowing in this impoverished region is still done with oxen. CEDICAM promotes what is known locally as “Egyptian” plowing, which consists of opening the soil without turning it over. Egyptian plowing, which is particularly adapted to semi-arid landscapes, reduces soil erosion and conserves soil moisture by decreasing water evaporation from the soil.

A comprehensive waste management program has been developed to produce organic fertilizers. Before, animal manure was underutilized because livestock were simply tethered in fields to drop their manure there. By penning livestock into hard-floor corrals, manure could be concentrated and composted to provide higher quality fertilizer.

The bokashi technique, first developed in Japan, has been adapted successfully to local conditions and produces high quality compost in just 2-3 weeks. The keys to bokashi are inoculation with high-performance yeast and bacteria to ferment the waste and addition of sugars to augment the fermentation, generating high temperatures that accelerate the process even further.

Worm-composting has also been introduced successfully, particularly among women who use it primarily in greenhouses and family gardens. In addition to using the compost, the “juice” from worm-composting is collected in discarded plastic bottles for later use to fertilize individual plants. Farmers overcome the expense of investing in worms by borrowing a kilogram of fresh worms from CEDICAM and returning worms a year later.
Jesús León Santos and his daughter Diana with the compost at their farm
Jesús León Santos (founder of CEDICAM) and his daughter Diana with the compost at their farm
More recently CEDICAM has begun promoting the use of “green manures,” grain and legume crops that are worked into the soil as natural fertilizers. Crops grown for green manure include peas, fava beans, mustard, wheat, and barley. A weed locally called “white clover” (trébol blanco) can be grown on even the poorest soils because it uses symbiotic bacteria to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. It provides a way to improve the soil fertility in fields with crops by applying green manure produced on soils that are not fit for agriculture. At first farmers had trouble incorporating the green manure into the soil, as they could not afford heavy machinery for tilling and their traditional oxen-plows could not handle the job. Lawnmowers and weed-whackers now do the job, and the trimmings are simply left to decompose on the ground. This ground cover also helps preserve soil moisture.

All these improvements have allowed farmers to reduce and even eliminate their use of chemical fertilizers. They have achieved similar success along the pesticide front. Extracts from Mexican marigold, common rue, chili and garlic, as well as soap solutions, are used to repel pests. A soil fungus (Beauveria bassiana), which is pathogenic to insects, has also been recruited as a biological agent to fight insect pests. Spores can be applied to crops as either a solution or powder, though care must be taken not to treat flowers visited by pollinating insects. These natural methods have enabled farmers to cut back and even eliminate the use of chemical pesticides, allowing them to market their produce as “organic.”

Another important feature of sustainable farming is proper seed selection, particularly for corn. The communities served by CEDICAM have been very successful. Mexico is the birthplace of corn, and Oaxaca is home to dozens of local varieties of different colors, shapes, sizes, and uses. CEDICAM has been instrumental in teaching farmers how to continually improve yields by selecting for the best seeds. Plants are chosen from the center of the field, and not the edges, to avoid genetic contamination from nearby plots. Selection criteria include:
  • plant resistance with regard to drought, freezing, lodging, storage, pests, and disease;
  • productivity (number of ears, ear size, kernel size);
  • final use (eat fresh, make corn meal, or feed animals).
Selected seeds are planted separately, and a second round of selection is made looking for the largest and healthiest ears (i.e., no insect or disease damage) and at least 12 rows of kernels in straight rows. In this way each farm is a living laboratory in which varieties adapted to varied conditions of weather, soil, and cultural preference are constantly being improved. With proper selection and care, these local varieties are as productive as imported hybrid seeds. Discarded plastic bottles are used to store selected seeds, allowing farmers to have their own seed bank and keep it safe from vermin. These varieties are then shared and traded in informal networks of markets and fairs.
Maize seed storage
Maize seed storage
All these advancements have been achieved through a comprehensive training program called “Farmer to Farmer,” which aims to lead by example and convince with results. From the very beginning CEDICAM decided to be a farmers’ organization. Agronomists and other “experts” were deliberately excluded due to prior negative experiences with government officials.

Working horizontally and sharing in the work, farmers are persuaded to dedicate a section of their land to the new techniques, so that before-and-after comparisons can be made. Inspired by higher yields, savings, and improved livelihoods, the most successful farmers are recruited into sharing their experiences with their neighbors. These efforts are carried out by two types of workers: promoters and facilitators. Promoters have model plots of their own and participate in meetings, workshops, and training sessions. Facilitators help identify promoters, offer logistic support for meetings and workshops, and seek out and create educational materials. In this way CEDICAM leads by example, through its constant presence in communities, sharing in the hardships as well as the rewards. It has a permanent presence in 12 farming villages and more informal arrangements with another 30 communities.

Soil Conservation

But as impressive as these achievements have been, what has really brought international attention has been CEDICAM’s struggle against soil erosion, which has developed along two fronts – soil conservation and reforestation.

The construction of containment ditches along contours on the hillsides is one of the most visible and effective projects. The ditches have a double function: retaining water and prevent soil erosion. They capture rainwater as it flows down a hill, channeling the water through the soil to supply crops downhill from each ditch. The ditches keep topsoil from washing away because they reduce the flow of water down the hills, and because soil loosened by rain is trapped in a ditch. Construction of these ditches is an enormous undertaking, requiring an immense quantity of manual labor.

Each meter-long section of a 60 cm wide x 60 cm deep ditch can recover up to 360 liters when it rains. Dozens of kilometers of ditches are built every year, and so far the total is hundreds of kilometers. Contour ditches are laid out with a device first introduced by the Guatemalans and known as the “A”. It consists of two long wooden poles forming an A-frame that is used to mark out the contours. Initially the ditches were dug by hand, relying on the indigenous tradition of community service known locally as tequio, in which all members of the community are expected to participate.

The success of the containment ditches was quickly evident in the recovery of previously dry springs and streams, and even in the birth of brand new springs. Now the federal government, through the National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR), has adopted this technique and taken over the construction of containment ditches with heavy machinery. The success of this project has inspired CEDICAM to implement other water management projects, such as the construction of rainwater cisterns to supply water to their greenhouses.

Contour ditch system for capturing rainwater and soil on a slope in Telantongo, Oaxaca

Reforestation

Even more impressive has been the reforestation project. While many of CEDICAM’s other projects had immediate and obvious benefits, reforestation is a longer-term investment that requires more faith. When they first began, there was much resistance because trees take years to grow. It was not easy to convince people to invest their work in something that might never benefit them directly. Some were willing to plant fruit trees but not other kinds of trees. At first, the few people who were persuaded planted only one or two trees, maybe five. With time, the ready availability of limbs for firewood was key in convincing the populace that non-fruit trees were also worth planting.

 Having no prior experience with raising trees, CEDICAM had to proceed by trial and error, and there were some missteps along the way. At the beginning, eucalyptus and ironwood seedlings provided by government nurseries proved inadequate to the soils and climate of the Mixteca. Following CETAMEX founder Angel Roldán’s advice, farmers started looking for species indigenous to the region and settled on a pine (Pinus oaxacana) known locally as ocote, and an alder known locally as elite (Alnus acuminata). The group visited several existing nurseries to learn proper techniques before establishing its own nursery, which now produces over 30,000 seedlings per year. CEDICAM estimates over 4 million trees have been planted so far.

The indigenous pines and alders grow quickly. The alder is particularly impressive because it fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere and thrives on even the poorest soils. It is excellent at improving the soils, since its leaf fall deposits so much nitrogen-rich organic matter on the ground. In a grove of 20-year-old alders, we were able to dig 20-30 cm deep in black moist earth, while only a few meters away outside the grove there was nothing but bare rock.
Gerry Marten checks out a 20-year-old elite (Alnus acuminata) grove. Note the bare ground in the background outside the grove.
Soil formed from the litter beneath an alder tree | Eroded soil a few meters outside the alder grove
Left: Soil formed from the litter beneath an alder tree (Alnus acuminata)
Right: Eroded soil a few meters outside the alder grove
Because these trees grow so quickly, limbs can be cut for firewood without damaging the trees. This was perhaps the most convincing aspect of the reforestation project for the local people, since previously they had to spend a lot of time traveling ever-increasing distances in search of retreating firewood sources. Now these communities have a sustainable source of firewood close at hand, making it unnecessary to cut many trees in the rest of the landscape. To reduce firewood demand, CEDICAM has also worked to promote the adoption of efficient, wood-saving stoves, which also improve the health of families by burning cleaner and reducing smoke inhalation in the kitchen (see the Patsari Stove story).

For reforestation to be successful, it was necessary to exclude goats from reforested areas, a move that was not welcomed by the owners of goat herds. But with the aid of prior experience, the necessary zoning was agreed upon, and goats have slowly been replaced with sheep, whose grazing is a bit more selective and less destructive.

A limitation of these fast-growing trees is that they tend to have short lives. The first trees, which were planted in the mid 1980s, are starting to die out. This suggests a need to diversify the reforestation with slow-growing species as well. The good news is that the fast-growing trees are now seen in places where none were planted, suggesting that nature has begun to take over their propagation. Although reforestation will be a long process, these first steps have been successful enough to encourage people to carry the reforestation further.

Social Impact

CEDICAM projects have also improved the status of women. At first women were not even allowed in the farmers’ organizational and training workshops, but now women are prominent in all CEDICAM activities, including community organizing and technical assistance to farmers in the field. The change has been due in part to pressure by international donors interested in gender equality, but it was really more of a response to the realities of these communities, where high levels of emigration, particularly among young men, have forced women to take on a broader role in economic activities.

These communities have also seen changes in the way they organize and regulate land use. Communal lands in Mexico are usually divided into family plots for individual use. Common areas not suited for agriculture are used for grazing, firewood collection, and charcoal production. The common areas are particularly vulnerable to Tragedy-of-the-Commons in the absence of strict rules for their use, and one of the first side-effects of CEDICAM’s work has been the emergence of zoning and land-use rules in communities where a free-for-all attitude had previously been the norm. Rules are decided at community assemblies. Examples include prohibiting the harvest of oaks for charcoal production, banning grazing from reforested areas, and imposing heavy fines on offenders.

The Lessons

A conspicuous feature of the turnabout from decline to restoration has been the conversion of vicious cycles into virtuous cycles. Although the causes of environmental decline in the Mixteca are complex, we can identify the introduction of goat-herding into an already fragile ecosystem as the “negative tipping point” that set decline in motion. It was overgrazing by goats that interrupted nature’s regenerative powers, starting a vicious cycle in which goats degraded the land, the land was incapable of supporting other uses, goat herding increased, and the land was degraded even more. The government’s agrarian policy and the use of chemical fertilizers were responses to the crisis of erosion, land degradation, and deforestation, but they proved counterproductive in the long run.

We can identify the Guatemalan refugees – and more specifically their advice on farming and soil conservation methods and the support by World Neighbors and CETAMEX – as the positive tipping point, the “EcoTipping Point,” which set in motion a gradual process of environmental restoration and agricultural recovery. Demonstrating that bean yields could be improved dramatically by planting in rows was the first step towards food self-sufficiency. This inspired farmers to embark on soil conservation measures (e.g., contour ditches) and tree planting, which reversed the vicious cycle of land degradation. The vicious cycle was transformed into a “virtuous cycle” in which the social and environmental forces that had driven decline were driving restoration. Further success gave people the experience and confidence to undertake additional actions to further improve their waste management, their soils, their landscape, their diet, and their quality of life.

How did CEDICAM communities actually manage to achieve this? What were the ingredients for their success? Their story displays the same key ingredients for success that are prominent in other EcoTipping Point success stories:

Outside stimulation and facilitation. A success story typically begins when people from outside a community stimulate activate a shared community awareness about its problems – how the situation is changing and what seems to be responsible – and provide fresh ideas for possible actions to deal with it. The Guatemalan refugees showed the Mixtec farmers a different way of doing things, encouraging the farmers to confront their problems. While CEDICAM’s accomplishments have come primarily from the human and financial resources of the people in the region, organizational and financial assistance at key points along the way – from nonprofit organizations such as Bread for the World, Catholic Relief Services, Maryknoll, and the Rotary Club International – have also made a difference.

Strong local democratic institutions and enduring commitment of local leadership. The experience of Oaxaca’s Mixteca region shows how lasting results can come from below, from the grassroots of society. They have not been imposed by government policies, but rather achieved through the self-evaluation, creativity, broad-based decisions, and manpower of an independent community making the best of its own resources. The strength of democratic institutions in the indigenous communities of the Mixteca region has allowed them to embark on projects that are conceived and supported by the same people who must implement them. The traditional tequio community service system is a particularly noteworthy expression of this communal democracy. Building on the vitality of strong community participation, CEDICAM’s success has come from decades of commitment and hard work by Jesús León Santos and his colleagues.

Coadaption between social system and ecosystem. Success depends on technology appropriate to the local environment and the corresponding social organization for putting the technology effectively into use. Environmental and social gains proceed together. In addition to the tequio, which was so readily adapted to rescuing the landscape and reviving traditional agriculture, we find in CEDICAM communities other social institutions that evolved with the project. One is the “Farmer to Farmer” methodology which seeks to train neighbors by treating them as equals. This approach contrasts with government strategies which often seek to impose solutions from above, solutions that not only fail but often are counterproductive. Another important social adaptation has been the change in the role of women and how women’s work is valued. With regards to ecosystem adaptation, the land has responded positively to reforestation and changes in agricultural methods. Higher crop yields are the most obvious ecosystem response, but soil fertility is also enhanced where crops are mixed and rotated.

“Letting nature do the work”. Micro-managing the environment is beyond human capacity. Effective problem solving utilizes nature’s healing powers for restoration. In the Mixteca region, trees are starting to grow where they were never planted. Springs and rivers that had dried up have come back to life .CEDICAM’s production of natural fertilizers reduced the need for chemical fertilizers, allowing nature to maintain soil fertility. The milpa system is environmentally sustainable because its multi-species polyculture is a mimic of nature.

Transforming waste into resources. What appears to be “waste” – such as degraded land, abandoned buildings, garbage, or marginalized people – is mobilized and transformed into valued social or material capital. Because the Mixteca region is so poor, CEDICAM has had no choice but to make the fullest use of any available resources. It has recycled agricultural and other wastes into compost to improve the soils. Refugees are by definition unwanted in their homeland. They are in a way “discarded people”, which in this case were valued and appreciated in their adoptive land.

Rapid results. Quick "payback" from a community’s efforts helps to mobilize commitment to the effort. Once positive results begin cascading through a community and the environment, normal social, economic, and political processes reinforce the benefits from there. For farmers in the Mixteca region, higher yields from planting beans in rows brought tangible benefits to farmers within a matter of months, conveying a message that they could improve their lives with prudent experimentation. The construction of contour containment ditches on the hillsides also had rapid and dramatic consequences, when dry springs were brought back to life. The benefits from reforestation were slower, but enthusiasm for reforestation grew when people realized they no longer had to travel long distances in search of firewood.

Powerful symbols. Symbols can help to consolidate community action. Food self-sufficiency can be considered a powerful symbol in the Mixteca experience because it summarizes precisely the reason why these changes began and continue to happen. Greater agricultural yields have not only improved the family diet, they have improved the local economy. Food self-sufficiency has become a source of pride, as agricultural renewal offers new opportunities for youth who previously had no choice but to move away from the region to find work. Perhaps most important are symbols of cultural transformation that gave hope and pride to communities that knew only despair in the past. In a land that “didn’t even grow thorns,” Jesús León Santos called our attention to the birdsongs, telling us there were none when he was young. To us this is the perfect symbol of the region’s renewal.

Overcoming social obstacles. Today’s complex society can present numerous obstacles to positive change. The Mixteca experience offers examples of how such obstacles were overcome.
  • The tequio community service system surmounted a problem so common elsewhere – that people “don’t have time” to contribute to the social and environmental commons.
  • CEDICAM has overcome obstacles that arise when people feel threatened by dramatic change. For example, when reforestation efforts began, it was necessary to satisfy goat herders who objected to exclusion from areas with tree seedlings.
  • There have been risks of entanglement with political and religious divisions in the state of Oaxaca, but CEDICAM’s neutral policy has kept it out of those conflicts.
  • The autonomy and relative simplicity of the region’s indigenous communities has enabled them to proceed with what makes sense, independent of widespread and often crippling dysfunction in the mainstream society.
  • Self-sufficiency has gone hand-in-hand with autonomy. Although external financial support has been significant, CEDICAM is basically a group of peasants who are transforming their communities and giving the nation, and the world, an example of how to get things done without depending heavily on outside resources.
Social and ecological diversity. Greater diversity offers more choices and more opportunities that some of the choices will be good ones.
  • By accepting the Guatemalans and following their example, the Mixtec communities increased their social diversity.
  • CEDICAM has worked with government agencies and collaborated with universities in Mexico and abroad.
  • The women in indigenous communities evolved a greater diversity of roles.
All these experiences have expanded the social universe and diversity of choices in the Mixteca.
Social and ecological memory. Drawing upon the past can be a particularly significant source of diversity. Although some of the techniques employed by CEDICAM are introduced, many are not new. They are traditional practices that have stood the test of time. They were lost, and now they are being recovered. Though the landscape of the Mixteca region appears to be a wasteland, it is capable of producing food and growing forests with proper care. This productive capacity had not been lost as much as it had been forgotten, and it is now being “remembered” with proper attention. By reviving the traditional milpa the diversity of crops that had been lost to monoculture has been restored. As for reforestation, native trees reflected an evolutionary memory that provided the right species for local conditions after initial efforts with exotic species were unsuccessful.

Building resilience. Resilience is the ability to withstand unexpected surprises that threaten to make things worse. It is essential for locking in the gains from social and environmental restoration. The key to resilience is adaptability. The founders of CEDICAM began to forge a culture of resilience when they responded to the departure of CETAMEX by forming their own organization. Since then, they have crafted their strategy to nurture resilience at every step of the way. Crop diversification increases food security, as do soil conservation measures. The high rate of emigration, particularly among young men, could have stifled efforts for positive change, but women have filled the void created by this lack of manpower.” Success breeds success.” The community’s organization, experience, and confidence have strengthened its capacity for adaptation, innovation, and respond effectively to future threats. With their dedication, intelligence, and generosity, the people of the Mixteca region should continue to provide an inspiring example for many years to come.

Acknowledgments

We wish to thank Jesús León Santos, and his family, for showing us around the region; current CEDICAM president Alfonso Eugenio Lopéz Lopéz and CEDICAM Facilitator Pedro Velasco Cruz for taking the time to talk to us; and the rest of the CEDICAM for working on the projects we were able to witness.

References