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Want to Change the World? You Will Have to Get Your Hands Dirty

Environment  (tags: animals, climate-change, CO2emissions, conservation, ecosystems, environment, globalwarming, government, habitatdestruction, healthconditions, Land Issues, pollution, politics, protection, research, science, Sustainabililty, trees, water, weather, wildlif )

- 1896 days ago -
It boils down to the fact that the large majority of us, and by us I mean the people on this planet, simply do not have access to land and resources--a fact that is barely recognized as a significant issue.

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Kit B (276)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 8:05 am
A modern-day Digger surveys a little Democracy Village that roared. (Photo: Screen Grab/‘Grasp the Nettle’)

As a filmmaker, it’s a rare privilege to stumble upon a completely unique story—in the case of my new documentary, Grasp the Nettle, a motley collection of land rights activists, squatting a three-acre piece of land in the heart of suburban London.

With my video camera and microphone in hand, I decided to give up my job and flat to move in with a group of outsiders who had opened up an urban space with a unique ethos of freedom.

The end result is a film that documents the rise and fall of two radical social experiments in. This wild, unpredictable ride full of inspirations, absurdities and eccentricities, completely transformed my view of what activism can and should be.
****See movie trailer here at VISIT SITE****

Fast-forward a year and a half, after finishing the editing of the film, I find myself attending a talk by renowned environmental and social activist Vandana Shiva, hosted by Schumacher College and the “Transition” group in Totnes, UK. Shiva’s presentation wraps in the ills of GM, the dark side of globalization, and the farmers’ struggle in India against Monsanto.

Shiva is a captivating, inspiring speaker.

I watched a room full of seemingly motivated people acknowledging the importance of “growing our own food.” Why did I feel so uneasy? Perhaps the fact that the two UK communities I have actually been part of that attempted to exist outside of the framework of consumer society—Kew Bridge Eco-Village and the Democracy Village on Parliament Square, both featured in Grasp the Nettle—had been destroyed, to some extent brutally.

At stark odds with the mainstream “green” bubble, these two outcomes point to a dirty social and political reality that many seem to want to leave out of the discourse. For even as many in the progressive left are willing to accept the realities of environmental and energy crises, along with the failure of our current economic system, one of the most fundamental issues at the heart of all these problems is land rights.

It boils down to the fact that the large majority of us, and by us I mean the people on this planet (including people in the UK and the West), simply do not have access to land and resources—a fact that is barely recognized in the mainstream as a significant issue.

How can we separate the idea of squatting land from the wider issue of energy and food independence? Occupying disused land needs to become part of the range of tools that our progressive movements in the West embrace with vigor. Acknowledging that we need to “grow our own food” is only the first step, and it will take courage for the mainstream green bubble to be burst.
****Short Video Here at VISIT SITE***

The political class in Britain rules through concentrated land ownership. The entire country’s farmland is in the hands of less than one percent of the population. Just 6,000 owners, mostly the Crown and other aristocrats, but also a few large institutions such as the National Trust and the Church of England, hold 40 of the 60 million acres of Britain. (Not included in that are the current holdings of the Ministry of Defense, which are 592,800 acres.)

This situation maintains a privileged class and a majority disenfranchised of its right to land. The system is enforced with planning laws and legislation.

Even when you play the game and buy your own land, planning law suppresses individual initiative, making it extremely difficult to build your own sustainable home and live freely.

The suppression of people’s efforts to live on the land has been justified by the notion that human presence in nature is detrimental, as if we are somehow separate from it.

The eco-community in the Preseli Mountains of west Wales was set up in 1993. Residents lived happily for five years in self-made, sustainable “Hobbit Homes” on a 180-acre farm bought by Julian and Emma Orbach. Problems began for the community when it was spotted by officials in a survey plane.

Although eventually allowed to stay, establishing the right of occupancy took a decade of legal battles.

Not everyone is so lucky. Ultimately, if you are refused planning permission and refuse to comply, you may face police action—such as the 86 families of Irish Travellers at Dale farm who were evicted in October 2011 from a piece of land that they actually owned. Riot police stormed the site in a brutal eviction that saw two people Tasered and many injured.

By: Dean Puckett is a documentary filmmaker from England. | Take Part|

***Go to Visit Site and find Take Actions and Pledges to change our world. ****

Brenda Nelson (3)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 8:35 am
Problems will only get worse as human populations grow. We need to realize the path to the future starts by controlling our own population growth because Mars is a long way away.

I am so glad I bought my own little hobby farm years ago, 10 acres, but it is something worth owning.

Elle B (84)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 10:54 am
Thank-you Kit. . .

Grew up with food gardens, orchards, tall trees and bushes . . .still grow in season...but also have peppers growing on kitchen counter year around. . .good way to start for those unaccustomed to getting earth on hands et al. . .


Elle B (84)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 11:14 am
PS. Here in Western Washington we have had lots of Pea Patches, Roof Gardens, and small plots to lease for those without land and/or limited resources for quite some time. . .not hard to do. . .of course those wearing Azz Hats are addicted to constantly CUTTING...the means to provide assistance for such efforts and are creating the usual unnecessary obstacles while simultaneously rapidly depleting natural resources. . . . also. . .so many 1st Nations people have always tried to show good paths to live on planet earth as humans. . . too bad so many brains still aren't picking up those frequencies. . .it helps to remove the Azz Hats. . .

Really need a cure for human greed and stupidity. . .

Thanks again Kit for usual astute information. . . :)

Kit B (276)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 11:18 am

The idea of growing food, whether in your own garden, empty lots in cities or "curb side" is growing rapidly in this country, we must have access to healthy foods, let children be a part of growing food. They learn the food does not come from cans or MacDonald, but from the earth. When they help grow the food, they like eating that food.
Every school should have a garden, every child can have some level of "hands on" to growing that food, and older children and teens can learn to cook food. More access to fruits and veggies will mean fewer eating meat, meat that is filled with antibiotics and we need not go into the horrors of meat packing.

Nicole W (646)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 12:10 pm
you are so right. thank you Kit

Lois Jordan (63)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 12:23 pm
Noted w/much thanks, Kit...great info. I didn't know land ownership was so restricted in the UK. We have our own restrictions here in the U.S....including mineral rights. This is why there is fracking in TX now, as well as other places.
Occupy concentrated quite a bit of effort on this issue. Besides working to keep threatened homeowners in their own homes, they have tried on many occasions to have vacant properties turned into gardens/small farming areas. I believe the success of this is the future America needs to embrace.

Kit B (276)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 1:01 pm

Here is a very good video offered a few days ago by J L on how neighborhoods can begin to take back food, begin a healthy renewed food revolution. (done in a humor yet serious way)

Vallee R (280)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 1:04 pm
Not too long ago I moved to a very remote area - the real estate agency was unethicl they say but not illegal - I was forced to pay several houndred dollars to drive on the county road to get to my property - then I had to pay more and have a house built in a year - then I had to pay more to have the house and then I had to pay more to have a legitiment septic put in 0- not on like our forefathers had - yet the cows could piss and hsit anywehre they wanted - it was open cattle territory -

Kit B (276)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 1:15 pm

If you can not access that link, the video is also on You Tube:

Well worth watching.

Is this easier? or


Kit B (276)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 1:15 pm

Sorry I thought those had been made active. My goof.

Kit B (276)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 1:24 pm

Land that is sold for residential use must have free ingress and egress. Val, you should see your county tax assessor you may be entitled to some recourse.

Theodore Shayne (56)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 1:52 pm
The Travelers may have owned the site but the Travelers are anything but the type of neighbor you would want to have for very long. They are a foul lot who have no regard for others or other people's property and they certainly don't create jobs or assimilate into society. No thanks. They are the Romany of Britain.

Magdika Cecilia Perez (131)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 2:32 pm
thank you

Magdika Cecilia Perez (131)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 2:32 pm
thank you

Bryna Pizzo (139)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 3:05 pm
Thank you for sharing the article. (Noted and shared)

Angelika R (143)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 4:03 pm
Thx Kit, interesting and I already saw the video you commend several weeks ago.
The problem of land ownership is obviously similar in most countries and what good does it if you bought your piece and they come along wth eminent domain!? Just think how many in the US are experiencing this right now with the KXL issue.

Kit B (276)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 4:17 pm

***Please flag the above SPAM.***

marie C (163)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 6:15 pm
Thanks Kit
Spam flagged I had better go to bed now we have loan sharks on Care 2

Eternal Gardener (745)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 6:32 pm
It's so true. And in that sense I do feel pity for the people who aren't able to get their hands dirty and their soil thriving.

Jason S (50)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 7:19 pm
Good posting, thanks

Ann W (15)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 7:53 pm
I think it was Mother Jones Magazine that ran an story on someoone who squatted a dispossesed Home, fixed it up and sold it. Then did the same thing again. I think it was December of last year?? January of this one??

He also plays in a punk rock band. Good Luck.

JL A (281)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 8:03 pm
CA has a lot of community gardens and networking of those doing it or who want to do it.

JL A (281)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 8:19 pm
Spam flagged;
for information on creating a community garden

Judith Hand (55)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 9:14 pm
Noted. Not quite sure what to do with it; it's certainly not a simple issue. Tx for the article.

Patricia H. (440)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 9:50 pm

Past Member (0)
Monday March 18, 2013, 1:25 am
Indeed. Thanks for posting this.

Reem K (4)
Monday March 18, 2013, 2:28 am
Thanks for sharing.

Craig Pittman (52)
Monday March 18, 2013, 4:57 am
Thanks Kit. We all need to eat but so many of us depend on the complex system of farm to processor to distributor to store to get it. Often there seems little choice but, as this film (s show) there are more options than at first seem apparent. . Emergency Services recommend keeping ten days supply of food on hand. The infrastructure is not immune to disruption. One day we may find it necessary to fend for ourselves - for ten days or longer. As it is a sad and growing number of people depend on food banks to survive. Any vacant space can be used for growing food. It is encouraging seeing people do just that.. .

Ben O (170)
Monday March 18, 2013, 8:34 am
I sure miss the garden I once had!

Giana P (398)
Tuesday March 19, 2013, 5:46 am
I guess here in Israel, I will only be able to read about it not participate. Well, that's better than nothing...
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