what does severine use to get stuff done?

posted May 18, 2016

Severine von Tscharner Fleming

Severine von Tscharner Fleming

Organiser, cultural worker (Greenhorns, Agrarian Trust, Farm Hack)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Severine, an organizer and cultural worker in the young farmers movement. I run Greenhorns in the Champlain Valley of New York, I’m founder of Agrarian Trust, and co-founder and board secretary of Farm Hack. I’m also involved with quite a few other projects including mixing up wild-crafted seaweeds, fruits, and flower petals into herbal teas for a little farm business on the side.

You may have noticed the phenomena of the new agrarian movement — out on the weekends selling our food at farmers’ markets. Local agriculture is a compelling, diverse and healthy alternative to corporate mega-culture farming. My colleagues-in-arms have put their lives into direct action by founding thousands of new, small and medium-sized family-based businesses across the country. My main work is to initiate and coordinate creative networks that support my community’s needs. That means connecting people, helping with access and mobility to overcome inevitable obstacles, and transmitting farmers voices and viewpoints out into media-space.

This work crosses many sectors, formats and institutional forms. It includes web-based communities that create and share open-source tools, as in Farm Hack. It includes direct contact with archives, public and private libraries, older people, oral and folk narratives, junk shops and radical micro-histories like Grange Future. It involves small teams of humans making grass-roots media (radio, video, anthologies/publications) like the New Farmers Almanac, and Greenhorns Guide to Cooperative Farming. It includes social media, Instagram and making our own cooperative film festival for outreach on college campuses. It includes sailboats and cargo-value-chain logistics. It includes engaging programmers and researchers to do mapping, working with lawyers to craft new legal forms of commons-based governance. It is wide ranging and more expansive than I ever expected, and it takes me out on the rural roads, almost constantly tracking down the future budding up from the agrarian underground.

What hardware do you use?

I’m sorry to admit it, but I’m on my 9th Apple. It seems like I’ve stared at a computer pretty much every day since 6th grade – my brother says I’m addicted to it. I like the Brother printers and the Canon cameras. When I’m at home I use an old-fashioned roller-dial phone for my radio show, which gives the best sound quality, but often I’m on the road and my listeners cringe at the bovine background chatter from the busted up old iPhone. I like the old iPhone software, not the new stuff. Kids these days!

I’m a luddite who needs wifi. It’s a challenge working in rural and remote areas, hobo-ing and making films, while trying to manage workflows in 3 timezones on snatches of Internet. It does get done, but my calves are bloody from raging around in a techno-bramble patch for so many years and I’m not good at it. Suggestions are deeply welcome. It’s only sheer persistence and the massive social architecture, a baroque brocade of co-operators and allies that keep the machines running, and servers clear of space-trash. What I really want is to live in a world with less computers, and a more appropriate level of complexity. I’d like to live in a place where setting up a meeting happens in a common kitchen, informally at mealtimes, and is synched not by algorithms, but according to our daily routine of sunrise, tea-drinking, goat-milking, and a leisurely rye toast with butter. I’d like a recycled, refurbished, off-grid solar server (that is locally owned) run by a friend of mine who barters for goat milk, kombu + rosehip jam.

And what software?

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