War, Peace, Farming, and Art

Returning to civilian life after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, a growing group of veterans find refuge through art and farming. Republished from Fresh Dirt Ithaca.

Nathan Lewis in the greenhouse.
Photos by Lauren DeCicca.

In a humid greenhouse on the backroads of Trumansburg, Nathan Lewis, a 28-year old veteran of the Iraq war, weaves through a maze of of tables, hoses, and water tanks, pointing out the various plants he and other members of the Veterans’ Sanctuary are cultivating this year—chives, licorice, a hardy citrus tree, a hardy kiwi, a curling willow.

It’s an odd selection for upstate New York, but the veterans, who get most of their plants by donation, fill pools of water in the greenhouse to keep the air humid for the nonnative species. Despite their efforts, they can’t seem to solve their mouse problem, which raises the question: How does a peaceful, antiwar group like this one deal with pests?

“My friend John said to ask them nicely to leave,” Lewis says. “After a while, I’m inclined to stomp on them.”

The Veterans’ Sanctuary, which was set up to help soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan acclimate to civilian life, is a recent addition to the list of project partners at Cornell’s Center for Transformative Action. Located in an Italianate house on a hill overlooking the village of Trumansburg, the sanctuary endeavors to create a new model for healing from war trauma—one that involves peer support, reconnection with nature through farming, and a connection to self-expression through art. Continue reading

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Peace, Food and our Future

Geoff Tansey will be in Toronto to present “Tinkering or Transformation: going beyond food and energy security for a well-fed world at peace” at the University of Toronto on Tuesday, April 16th.

2:00pm – 4:00pm
Anthropology Building, 19 Russell Street, AP246

He will discuss the range of innovations needed if we are to avoid food and farming becoming a source of conflict in the 21st century. He will outline a new project with the working title ‘Food is a key to avoiding World War Three.’  The following article is republished from Geoff Tansey’s website:

Peace, Food and our Future

A key challenge this century is to create sustainable ways in which everyone can feed themselves well, in communities that peacefully cooperate with each other. If we humans carry on in the way we have let our leaders manage our affairs to date, then we are likely to see even greater conflict and loss of life this century than before – because of not despite our technological wizardry.

How we meet everyone’s food needs will be a key factor in shaping the kind of world we have this century. It is part of a real security agenda I have been concerned with for decades. It goes back to the shocking sight for me, when I was working in Turkey in the early 1980s, of visiting a village where the people could run out of water for some time in the summer when their wells dried up. This in sight of a well-provisioned NATO installation, there as part of an early warning system. Far too much of human ingenuity, creativity, money, research and development activity focuses on better means of killing each other not supporting each other.

After returning from Turkey in the mid-1980s I supported the World Development Movement in the late 1980s / early 1990s in looking at real security. This resulted in a couple of publications – a briefing, Disarm or develop and a paper Real Security – East, West, North and South – and campaigning activities. It also lead to the work with Paul Rogers, prof of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford, and the book A World Divided.

UNGVA

Giant chair with broken leg sculpture outside the United Nations in Geneva – a symbol of opposition to land mines and cluster bombsThese weapons have made farming very hazardous or impossible in many areas where conflicts have raged. Continue reading