Webinar: Divest from War through Farming, Permaculture, & Simple Living

Start: Wednesday, December 16, 2020 3:00 PM Eastern Standard Time (US & Canada) (GMT-05:00)

End: Wednesday, December 16, 2020 4:30 PM Eastern Standard Time (US & Canada) (GMT-05:00)

How do we tackle something as large as the twin threats of war and climate change? World BEYOND War’s Organizing Director, Greta Zarro, describes her 2-prong approach as: 1) grassroots organizing, advocacy, and lobbying for policy-level system change, such as passing municipal divestment resolutions or securing legislation to shut down a military base, and 2) simultaneously, building the alternative world that we want to see, through lifestyle changes that bring our communities closer to self-sufficiency and sustainability, such as gardening/farming and producing our own energy.

This unique webinar will explore the intersections between permaculture, farming, simple living, and anti-war activism. Organizing Director Greta Zarro, who is also a co-founder of Unadilla Community Farm, a non-profit organic farm and permaculture education center, will moderate this interesting discussion, featuring:

  • Brian Terrell, an Iowan farmer and long-time peace activist who has worked with many organizations including Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Catholic Peace Ministry, and the National Committee of War Resisters League, who will share his story and explain why a revolution on the land is crucial for advancing peace and climate justice.

  • Rowe Morrow of the Blue Mountains Permaculture Institute (Australia), who will describe her permaculture work with refugees and in war zones, such as with the Afghan Peace Volunteers in Kabul.

  • Qasim Lessani, who will talk about his work with the Afghan Peace Volunteers and doing permaculture projects in his community in Afghanistan.

  • Barry Sweeney, who will share his story on becoming a Permaculture Design Instructor and a World BEYOND War Board Member and Chapter Coordinator (Ireland/Italy) - and how these two seemingly different paths are interconnected.

  • Stefano Battain, who will speak about War Child’s ‘Peace Garden’ initiative in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic, which supports the wellbeing of children and young people through the social and therapeutic benefits of horticulture, and equips war-torn communities with the skills they need to build sustainable sources of food, and sustainable sources of income, helping them to achieve the stability and security they deserve.

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Extended bios for our panelists:

Brian Terrell joined the Catholic Worker in New York City in 1975 and worked in several urban CW houses of hospitality for the next 11 years. In 1986, with his partner Betsy Keenan and their two children, he moved to the small town of Maloy in southwest Iowa to pursue the back to the land "agronomic university" aspect of the CW. There they keep a small herd of dairy goats, a flock of chickens, intensive gardens, some fruit trees and attempt to preserve and build community in an area where it has been largely destroyed by corporate agribusiness. Brian is a peace activist who has worked with Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Catholic Peace Ministry, Witness Against Torture and the Nevada Desert Experience among others, and is presently on the National Committee of War Resisters League. He conspires and acts with communities of resistance to war and injustice around the US and the world and for his protests he has been arrested many times, resulting in about two years in prisons and jails and being deported from three countries. In recent years, pre-COVID, he has divided his time roughly equally between being home on the farm and travelling for peace.

Rosemary Morrow: Rowe's motivation to work on permaculture comes from her deep grief over the degradation of the earth from unwise practices and her concern for people struggling with hunger and poverty in difficult, often post-conflict, situations, as also for the loss of species and the waste of human potential. Her Quaker belief in seeing 'that of God in everyone' takes a step further with her statement that “if you don’t live as if there is that of God [in everyone]....if people are dispensable or simply an object, then the repercussions are often very terrible.”

Qasim Lessani is a 22-year-old student at American University of Afghanistan. He joined the Afghan Peace Volunteers (APV) in 2016, when he was introduced to different volunteers from different cultures and provinces of Afghanistan. Qasim coordinated different programs and teams and was introduced to Brian Terrell who visited the APVs many times. Qasim was introduced to Rosemary Marrow in 2018 through the Permaculture Design Course, which changed his thinking about agriculture and illustrated the potential of permaculture principles to empower communities. Since then he has been involved in applying small permaculture projects in his community. In 2019, with the help of Rosemary Morrow, he received the first prize of the Permaculture Magazine Prize of 2019. He is currently working to develop a primary curriculum in Farsi Dari language that could be taken to the Ministry of Education of Afghanistan to teach in public schools. In 2019, also with the help of Rosemary, Qasim had the opportunity to visit Aranya Farm in Hyderabad, India.

Barry Sweeney qualified as a primary school teacher in 2006 and subsequently taught in Ireland until he lost his post in the financial crisis of 2008-2009. He then moved to Sicily to teach English and while he was there he realised how important it was for him to become involved in sustainable education. In 2014 he stepped back from teaching so he could upskill and spent the next two years doing permaculture courses and volunteering on permaculture projects and assisting on permaculture courses. He is currently back in Sicily and is involved in English language teaching, global citizenship education, and some part time permaculture design projects. Through his love for the planet and his desire to help to protect it, he came to realise how war, and all its aspects, were responsible for vast ecological degradation and so he joined World BEYOND War in 2016. He is a member of World BEYOND War's Board of Directors. More recent work has seen him teaching on a number of World BEYOND War's courses. In his role as country coordinator for World BEYOND War in Ireland he has organised a number of conferences and events in Ireland, one of which specifically examined the shared edge between ecological destruction and war.

Stefano Battain is currently Global Livelihoods Advisor based in London. He works at War Child UK, a child focused humanitarian organisation operating in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, CAR, Uganda and DRC. War Child is currently piloting an innovative approach called Peace Gardens aiming at providing children with enhanced psychosocial and agricultural skills while at the same time growing healthy food for children and their families living in conflict affected countries. Previously, he has also worked in Tanzania, South Sudan and Jordan. Stefano is an international development and humanitarian worker with over 10 years' experience in food security and livelihoods assessments, programmes design, delivery, monitoring and learning. He is passionate about travelling, food sovereignty and agroecology and co-founded "ALTERRATIVE" an initiative promoting information and awareness on grassroots solutions to promote food sovereignty. He is also serving as a board of trustee member for the Future Sense Foundation supporting disadvantaged communities around the world to empower them to build a better future.

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