international day for the eradication of poverty

posted October 17, 2017

Today is International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the theme this year is: A path towards peaceful and inclusive societies.  Todays call to action recognizes the importance of reaching out the the poorest throughout the world. As a global society, we are only as rich as our poorest member and we all prosper when those at the bottom succeed. Almost a billion people live in extreme poverty, this year’s theme reminds us of the importance of the values of dignity, solidarity for all people.

To read more about this year’s theme, click HERE


the death of the russian peasant

posted February 20, 2017

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My great grandparents immigrated from czarist Russia in the early years of the twentieth century, worked five years in the coal mines to save money, and bought a small farm in an agricultural community in New England on which they raised a diary herd, tobacco, and four children who had no interest in farming. The rural town in which they lived, like so many rural communities in this country, has had less farms every year since they died in the middle of the twentieth century.

I assume that this story is familiar to you: that I do not need to outline the history of increasing mechanization of agriculture, the consolidation of farms, the suburbanization of the countryside and the slow crawling deterioration of the remaining rural places.

What I do want to suggest is that when we think of this story, we often tend to centralize the American experience in the narrative of industrialized agriculture. My mental landscapes, at the least, still imagine pastoral countryside in less developed regions of the world– places where subsistence farming and rural fabrics continue to thrive.

But, as this piece in Al Jazeera brings to light, the reaches of industrialized agriculture far exceed the boarders of North America. were I to visit the homeland of my ancestors today, the plight of its villages would resemble the plight of my own. As Moscow-based journalist Mansur Mirovalev bleakly demonstrates, a coalition of forces– rapid urbanization, industrialization of agriculture, and the decline of the Russian economy– have created a situation in which half of Russia’s 13,000 villages have populations of 10 or fewer. As one elderly woman explained of her town, “Only old people are left here. And what do we, old people, do? We die,”

It’s worth reading the full article here.

But! It is also worth noting, as this 2014 NY Times article argues, that just like in the United States, small farm-to-table movements and organizations are present, vibrant, and might have something to gain from more stringent trade borders.

 

 


premature deaths on the rise in rural areas

posted May 28, 2016

Where you live should not determine how long you live. New research shows it does.

Americans have enjoyed increasingly longer lives over time. Advances in medicine, a decline in fatal car accidents, and falling violent crime rates mean we are living longer.

But new research shows a reversal of this trend for some. If you are rich, geography doesn’t matter. Your expected lifespan is still increasing. But if you are poor, geography matters. In parts of the country we see an actual reversal of the trend.

geography of life expectancy map

The trend is also correlated with increasingly fractious politics. The Washington Post found that the places where middle-aged whites are dying fastest are the same places where presidential candidate Donald Trump is performing best.

To read more of this article from the Center for Rural Affairs, click HERE!


america’s rural poor

posted December 3, 2015

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Earlier this year, 45 year-old Matt Black embarked from Santa Maria, Calif., his birthplace, and drove 18,000 miles across the country and back again, stopping every 200 miles to photograph cities, towns, and rural areas, where like Santa Maria, more than 20 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. That is the point at which the U.S. Census considers a community to be a concentrated poverty area.

“The idea behind concentrated poverty in these towns is that once you cross this threshold, poverty begins to affect the entire community not just the parts that are poor,” says Black in an interview with Rural America In These Times. “Everything about the place is impacted from the roads to the schools to the healthcare.”

To read more, click HERE.


environmental racisim: hog farms in north carolina

posted November 14, 2015

The first thing Violet Branch does when she wakes up is to inhale through her nose to see whether the smell of hog excrement from across the street has seeped into her home again.

“Sometimes when I wake up the odor is in the house. Sometimes before I go to bed, the odor is in the house,” says Branch, 71, who lives next door to a swine farmer who keeps two lakes filled with a swampy mixture of feces and urine that he periodically spreads on his crops as fertilizer. An acrid odor of rotting eggs fills her yard at least twice a week and occasionally her home, giving her nausea and on some occasions causing her to vomit. All she can do is wait until it passes or ask her son who lives next door to drive her to the nearby Walmart where she paces the aisles until her breathing returns to normal.

Branch is one of over 500 residents in eastern North Carolina who are suing Murphy Brown, the pork production arm of Virginia-based meat conglomerate Smithfield Foods. They’re seeking damages over the cesspools, or lagoons as the industry calls them—uncovered earthen storage pools of waste. The complainants say the lagoons disrupt their lives and devalue their properties. Click HERE to read more.


how pope francis is reviving radical economics

posted September 14, 2015

Excerpt from: How Pope Francis is Reviving Radical Catholic Economics- Some Catholics have been quietly practicing them all along.

By Nathan Schneider

September 9, 2015

My friend Ryan Patrico, a doctoral
student in history at Yale, noticed something curious while studying the German nuns whose convents wound up in Protestant regions in the early, bloody days of the Reformation. He focused on those nuns who refused the option of relocating to Catholic areas where they could practice their faith more freely. They understood their vows as being not only to certain kinds of prayers and allegiance to a pope, but to stewarding a certain plot of land and shepherding the surrounding economy. “Their Catholicism bound them to a place,” Patrico writes. They felt their salvation was tied up with caring for the land.

These nuns are a reminder that Pope Francis isn’t coming out of nowhere with his often perplexing “small is beautiful” form of ecological economics. He calls for urgency in confronting the climate crisis, while declining to put his trust in modern technology and markets for the solution. His sources of inspiration are seemingly lost causes: the remaining vestiges of indigenous agriculture, cooperative business models, and a call for the mass rejection of consumerism.

To read more, Click Here!