The achievements of beginning farmer movements of the last decade are exemplary, but land access challenges continue to threaten to dead-end the bolder aspirations of would be farmers. At the very root of the problem are the legal, cultural and social rules that govern our sense of property—what it is, how it is governed and how it is transferred. In the “Global North” strong ideological commitment to the virtues of private property make visioning alternative land tenure and land access systems seem implausible. Yet, there are examples of a land reform movement in the private property context which can teach us how to shift focus away from small farm entrepreneurism into deep political work.
This panel session brings together leading activists involved in land reform efforts from Scotland, France and the US. In these places, where ideas of private property are rarely challenged, these examples provide strategies for unlocking land for the public good. The panel will shine a light on examples of new models of “land reform” while looking at the efforts of beginning farmer movements.
Pandemics heed an ancestral warning in the United States, harking back to when too many Indigenous people were killed due to smallpox. That memory was especially acute for tribal regions across the United States with the onset of COVID-19. While many Tribal regions were quick to close their communities, many of them especially in the Southwest were still the hardest hit. Farmers, re-focused on ensuring good food was reaching elders and the most vulnerable, while at the same time growing and having to manage an onset of “support” that was not ideal for long-term sustainable food production. Alongside this came more interest in investing in Indigenous land stewardship that required leaders and collaboratives to form as a way to create a more holistic community-centered solution to the growing need of expanding production. Hear and learn from Indigenous leaders about how they have pivoted their work in powerful ways towards a more promising future.
Do we even have a right to be hopeful? With political and ecological fires raging all around, is it irresponsible to imagine a future world radically better than our own? A world of healed ecosystems? Of food sovereignty and equal access to land? A world where governments fear the people instead of the other way around?
These are questions that Naomi Klein and Nnimmo Bassey wrestled with when they conceived of a sequel to last year's Emmy-nominated short, "A Message From the Future with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez." The first film, co-written by the congresswoman and illustrated by Molly Crabapple, was set in a can-do future: one in which bold, progressive politicians joined with grassroots movements to launch the "Decade of the Green New Deal," battling poverty, injustice, and climate disruption all at the same time. The film touched a nerve and ended up being viewed more than 12 million times, convincing our little team of the need for more art that departs from well-worn apocalyptic scripts. Then Covid-19 hit.
Join globally-known activists, Naomi Klein and Nnimmo Bassey, as they show us the eight-minute sequel to Message from the Future, discuss the lessons we can learn from this extraordinary time and what a better and more hopeful future might look like.
Please join the ORFC Global team and UK folksinger, Sam Lee, for a brief closing plenary (15 minutes)
For those who would like to sing along with the final song here are the lyrics.
One May morning early I chanced for to roam
And strolled through the field by the side of the grove.
It was there I did hear the harmless birds sing,
And you never heard so sweet,
and you never heard so sweet,
you never heard so sweet
as the birds in the spring.
At the end of the grove I sat myself down
And the song of the nightingale echoed all round,
Their song was so charming their notes were so clear
No music no songster,
no music no songster,
No music no songster
can with them compare.
All you that come here the small birds to hear,
I'll have you pay attention so pray all draw near.
And when you're growing old you will have this to say,
That you never heard so sweet,
you never heard so sweet,
You never heard so sweet
as the birds on the spray!