Profuse apologies for being remiss on the posting front of late. I have more than a dozen posts queued in my head, but finding a minute to breathe and get ’em down onto the keyboard has proven difficult. A few people have been pressing me for Part III of the Sarvodaya series, but never fear, it’ll come as soon as I can. In the meantime I have a little video mission in Jordan to fulfil.
For now, here’s a teeny glimpse at the latest:
Geoff, Nadia and I are currently stationed a stone’s throw from the Dead Sea in the Jordan Valley. At 400 metres below sea level, this is the lowest place on earth. Geoff and Nadia are teaching a Permaculture Design Certificate course (PDC) to 35 students from many different countries. With this course, and other previous Permaculture Research Institute efforts in the region, we have a really good wedge of influence in what is effectively the hub of the middle east – the very open-bordered country of Jordan. Although we have a few ‘westerners’ here, the bulk of the students are from either Jordan or surrounding nations – like Palestine, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Qatar, Afghanistan, Turkey and even a couple of slightly further afield train passengers from Bulgaria. Other students come from Australia, Italy, UK, USA, Singapore and China. It’s been great getting to know them. A story could be told about many of these people alone. (Aah, so many blog post ideas, so little time….)
My mind starts to imagine all the possibilities for their futures…. Some are particularly lucid and eager to get started in their own countries. Several have their own land – potential future demonstration sites – and others are working with or running NGOs in their home countries, which of course gives a lot of networking/uptake potential.
Students socialise after a long day’s learning
Besides being the bottom of the world, this is also one of the driest and hottest places on the planet – with around 120mm of rainfall per year, and temperatures that can exceed 50°C. Even now, heading into the Jordanian ‘winter’ in mid-October, temperatures are regularly going over 40°C.
This place is also full of the harsh realities of life. Jordan is one of the most globalised countries in the middle east and is seeing similar results to all the other ‘developing’ nations that have followed the typical World Trade Organisation economic recipe of ‘free market liberalisation’. The little village of Al Jawfa where we’re based is a case in point. From being here just a short time the significance of Geoff’s previous work in the valley really begins to sink in. Surviving in a land of rocks and sand is not easy. If these people can but see the potential in harmonising their activities with the landscape, and thus let nature do what it does best – heal itself – they can begin to regain food and water security and buffer themselves against what will otherwise inevitably become an increasingly ugly resource-constrained situation.
PRI is developing a new site – this is one year after initial planting
As per our Permaculture Master Plan, the few western students we have here are effectively subsidising the training of needy local people. The construction you can see going up on the site above is a toilet and shower block, which will be part of the infrastructure that will service the needs of a site administrator, teacher and project manager – along with the many students that will be taught on the finished site. This is the Jordan Valley Permaculture Project – what I like to call ‘Greening the Desert, the Sequel’. Unlike in the movies, however, we anticipate this project to surpass the original. I’ll give you more details via the video I’m working on. Stay tuned.
If you would like to help speed up the development of the Jordan Valley Permaculture Project, please donate (be sure to specify the project’s name so we know what it’s intended for).
I should mention that because of limited time I’m concentrating on video to the neglect of still photography. As such, I’m missing so many photo opportunities it hurts! But, I’ll share the results of the video work with you in due course. I’m a video newbie, but hopefully it’ll work out okay…. If I had more time/funding I’d cover the area better, with video, photos and more candid articles. It does pain me to see such scenes as these and not be able to cover them in depth.
Anyway, I’ll get this online (getting access to the internet has been difficult) and leave you with a few photos from the flight in.
Centre pivot irrigation in northern Saudi Arabia
Arterial systems in Jordan are mere placemarkers, awaiting the few
downpours that arrive between November and April
Working on contour (foreground) to stop erosion and make the most of
every drop of precious water is becoming a positive craze in Jordan