Blog Archive




Community life the idea
Sanae-San’s Sharing

Lately I have been a little burnt out from people and all of the activities going on. Doing the same thing everyday and seeing the same people who ask the same questions every morning. Sometimes it’s like a replay button. But then I realize that this is what life is in many places all over the World but the things we do are fun.

I don’t even know that I remember what it is like to not live in a community at this point. This scares me a bit because I feel that I am taking advantage of the wonderful thing that is living in a community. The work is tough and sometimes I just want to get away but to be surrounded with such love and support is something that I wish everyone could have. I realize that although the work load is large, my stress level is profoundly low considering.

I know that when I go home and walk around my neighborhood that people will not smile and ask me how my day was. If someone were to see me crying on the street I know that no one would stop to ask me what was wrong. People will be strangers. Even though we consist of the same blood, we all laugh, we all love, yet we are strangers to one another. Why has this happened?

We had discussions about energy sources the other day and my fellow Americans and I discussed how wonderful it is when the power goes out. People gather together in one room for light, food, or boredom and what happens? They start to talk. The lack of technology or so called ‘developed’ things brings people together.

I also had a talk with Marta, from Indonesia, the other day about how no one in Japan really smiles at you, similar to parts of the U.S. I suppose. If they are on the train they are in their own World on their phone or sleeping, even if the train is packed to the point of staring at another person’s neck hairs. But why is it that there is no communication or even a simple hi? Nishanta tells me that in India with all trains this is usually the case but there is so much talking that you have to yell at one another. Marta says in her community/ town everyone smiles at you. They probably know you or they just simply know that you are one in the same as them. A human being.

Is this because our cities and lives have just become too big? Will people think I’m crazy when I flash a quick smile or how’s it going? Probably. What can we do to create community?

James 1:2-3
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

I celebrated my birthday with some friends at ARI with a night of karaoke and a peaceful morning at the river. 

ARI Lectures, Key Points

Steven Cutting’s Talk On The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Humans learn how and what to eat from each other. Passing down from generation. How to prepare, how to grow.

Our cultures and communities have grown from the table. Eating together.

Every culture is rich in food.

Food industry now controls our food culture. Industrial food culture often consists of processed food.

We trust the food industry to give us safe and healthy food, but their main goal is to make money. One reason we have FDA.

Now with frozen foods we don’t need a recipe or table for people. Meant to be quick and to eat alone.

Industrial meal
Followed cow life.
6 months- grass field (needs nutrition)
Next 18 months- feed lot with only corn

Cows are not meant to eat corn. They have many stomachs to process grass.Because of this they are easy to get sick so they have to eat anti-biotics.

Oversupply of corn because grows well but price lowers.

Extra for corn syrup, cows & gas for car.
Corn used is shipped from far and given nitrogen fertilizer.

If corn used in the cars for gas, the fertilizer gets into air.

Cola from McDonalds contains %100 corn bc of high fructose corn syrup. “Americans are made of corn” –Gil-san

No rule to separate gmo (genetically modified).

The cows live in their own manure but manure cannot even be used for fertilizer because of the toxic anti-biotics they are given so that their bodies can take only corn and not get sick.

Chemical Fertilizer (In India)
½ don’t read instructions
¼ don’t know there are instructions
1/3 use container in household.

Organic meal via organic company
20,000 acres of lettuce
400 acres experiment organic

Use laser to make land really flat.
Plow weeds. Plant. 10acre refrigerator. Fridge truck. Fridge supermarket.

Manure, labor for weeding, combined planting with trap plants to keep pests away. Government organic certification.

Meal from Trader Joes
Got asparagus but out of season so from Argentina.

Beyond organic
Grass Farmer
Reducing dependence of oil, working in harmony…
Joel Saratin. 150 acres beef cattle, pigs, chickens, turkey…

He calls himself a grass farmer not a cattle farmer. He spends time on the grass and not injections for the cow. He calls his pasture a salad bar with many kinds of grass.

The cows do the work. Letting animals be animals. He doesn’t feed them. They go to the food.

Portable electric fence to prevent overgrazing. Moves them everyday.

Birds always follow big animals. Big animals attract insects via body and manure. So his chickens follow his cows, scratch the manure and spread and eat maggot larva growing in manure. He knows things like it takes two days for larva to come and four days for flies to come. He lets the chickens go after two days.

Solve problems by letting animals be animals. Chicken peck each other so in industry they cut beak.

His answer to the omnivore’s dilemma is to show people how the food is grown.

Slaughtering done at his farm. He believes in the ‘glass wall’. People should see the connection of food and animal.

Industry is linear. The leftovers from leather goods are thrown away.

“In nature there is no such thing as waste”
Waste is all manmade.
But nature is a cycle. There is no end goal for profit.

Children of nature don’t fear the future.

“All the D students become farmers.”
So we are counting on the poorest students with our health & life, food.

So why does he farm? He says it is the best life he could do.

ARI: Soil Farmers           
We take most time to take care of our soil. We believe good soil means good crops.

Development & Localization
 Mr. Kamata Yoji, the chairperson of Ancient Futures Association Japan, came to ARI to talk to participants about development and how to talk with their communities on which way they should go.  He went through many activities which included:

Step 1: Rethinking Traditional/ Local Wisdom
Theme: Brief look at how traditional societies provide for their members’ material, psychological and spiritual needs, while respecting the limits of their environment.

Step 2: Rethinking Conventional Development
Theme: How conventional development leads to a breakdown of local self-sufficiency, community, self-esteem, environment.

Step 3: Shifting Directions
Theme: Let us think which direction we should go and how we can shift the direction.

He then went on to talk about Globalization and the importance of localization:

What does Localization bring?
Inner peace
Selfishness & Greediness to Self Sufficiency

Peace among community members
Competition & Domination to Cooperation & Equality

Peace with nature
Destruction & Pollution to Sustainability & Resilience

Some of his points sounded very radical because not all parts of globalization and developed countries are this way but I understand his point. It was emphasized by small discussion groups with participants after talking about their countries and communities and the problems that they face because of others’ actions.

How is money leaking from the community?

No money for land- no money to buy food
Enterprises exploit work and resources and leave with all money
Some things cannot be produced in your community (medicines, radios, etc.)

How do we plug the holes?

Sharing/ Sharing harvest if someone loans you seeds
Take control and authority over enterprises, set conditions
Maybe we don’t need all of these things, balance

Balance: Localization is not isolation

Out & About

Yama-age Festival
Some of the community members and I went out for a day in a nearby town. We first stopped at a cafe for some Inari (sweet Tofu wrapped rice).
Next some of ladies working at the cafe took us to the Yama-age festival down the street. Yama means mountains (made of japanese paper and flour props) and age means to lift them up. In Nakagawa this festival dates from 1560. For the three days 150 must operate the floats that the actors perform on.

Nishinasuno Dance
Every town in Japan has their own cultural dance. Nishinasuno has a competition every year to dance around the town.  The ARI community joined this dance in our Yukatas, traditional wear, and we won one of the prizes!

Last time in Tokyo
I stopped by Tokyo for the last time on the way to pick up a friend from the airport. I went and did my shopping and sightseeing and even had lunch with a good friend from the Episcopal Church. One of the things that stuck out to me most, though, was that in many of the alleyways were anti-nuke stickers and posters. 

It was very touching to see that even in the most expensive city in the World that people are willing to change and give up nuclear energy for the better of everyone’s health and safety. I hope that Japan can be a start of something great in which everyone can realize that we don’t need this dangerous and terrible substance in our lives. There are other ways to create energy in which could help, not hurt, nature and humans and to create jobs, not take lives of the workers.