2009 International Reconciliation Year

Goodbye International Year of the Potato, Hello Year of International Reconciliation …. not to mention International Year of Human Rights Learning, International Year of Natural Fibres, International Year of Astronomy and International Year of Planet Earth. What a tragedy that this Year of International Reconciliation is kicking off with Israel attacking Gaza and killing over 500 people (including 87 children) and wounding more than 2,500 in just over a week.

According to the Aidworkers Network these United Nations International Years are important opportunities for people on the ground to tie in with international campaigns that are supported with public service announcements, billboards, special events, press attention, etc. The web sites associated with UN Designated Years usually welcome press releases, articles and photos if they are related to the cause they are promoting and so it’s a great way to reach very large audiences and let them know about your work. And, according to the Network site, if you include “In association with the International Year of…” in your press releases, Flickr photo descriptions, YouTube uploads, web pages, etc., you get even more attention to your efforts. And aid workers certainly are making superhuman efforts worldwide. You can follow what’s happening in Gaza from the perspective of Aid workers by clicking here

and you can find out more about UN International Decades, Years and Days by clicking here, here and here.

On a personal level, I’ve decided to also designate 2009 as my own Year of Reconciliation – a year of reconciling two extremes: my “ideal world” and the world as it usually ends up being … what some describe as “the real world”.

In my ideal world I would take the one personal and one political action every day (the goal of this blog) and be part of a huge groundswell in which billions of people worldwide did the same and suddenly everything would be turned around and our huge sacrifices would have been worth it because we’d drop carbon emissions to 350ppm, mass extinctions would stop, war would end and no child would ever go hungry.

In my ideal world I’d also be the perfect parent teaching my children something new every day; helping them experience the extraordinary beauty of nature; the inspiration of art, music, film and literature; the deep personal joy of kindness, true friendship and sharing their good fortune with others; I’d show them how to grow food and cook it, care for animals, invent things, get fit, be creative and play a musical instrument. I’d help them to

feel safe, hopeful and optimistic.

In my ideal world I’d find the time to do all these things for myself, too, while earning enough money to support everyone I loved so that their dreams could come true… with enough money left over to donate to others.

In my ideal world I’d do all of this every day while also cleaning the house, paying the bills, doing the shopping and getting enough sleep so I wasn’t damaging my health by being up all night blogging.

In my ideal world last year, as I sat with a catalogue fantasizing about all I would do in Spring, I ordered every type of potato on offer from Digger’s to celebrate the International Year of the Potato. I was determined to do my bit to keep biodiversity in our food supply and to grow the staple of our diet to eliminate food miles.

On New Year’s Day, in “the real world”, I unwrapped packet after packet of potatoes that didn’t get planted … shoved in the dark while I procrastinated about the best spot in the garden to plant them. They should have rotted but, in their own amazing way, the potatoes kept wanting to live.

If I’d acted I could have had a garden full of potatoes and be harvesting them from now through until next Spring. But I didn’t and my failure stares me in the face as I look at all those packets. Somehow I have to reconcile my dream with my reality. In this case it is easy. I’ve started planting the potatoes in every spare space I can find. Far from perfect permaculture, but I’m not giving up as long as those potatoes have a breath of life left within them. I’m putting them in empty pots, compost bins, barely used walkways, along the fence … anywhere that I can pile up straw on top of them.

Of course any sane person would look at the list of goals in my ideal world and scoff – it’s not humanly possible. You can’t do A Year in a Day! I can understand people not even trying or giving up at their first failure … the way you do with New Year’s Resolutions. But just because you can’t achieve something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still strive to. Who knows, I’m planting them late but I may end up with an enormous crop of potatoes before next summer… and even though I try to do everything in one day and obviously can’t, with a bit of careful prioritising I may achieve most of my goals over the period of a week or a month.

Part of reconciliation is being prepared to fail and to not get what you want. I’m reconciled to the fact that I’ll fail more often than not but I’m setting my compass in the direction of the impossible … my ideal world … and giving it my best shot, one step at a time, one day at a time

One of my goals this year is to record a whole year of planting and harvesting in our Blackheath garden so that eventually it becomes second nature to grow and eat food all year round. If times are going to be tougher, not planting those potatoes could mean the difference between eating or not eating in the future.

One thing I have learnt in the last few years is that while there are “ideal” times to plant things, in reality a lot of things will still do well if planted at other times. I missed planting broadbeans in winter and then threw some seed in a couple of months ago – can’t believe that I’m actually harvesting now.

Today I harvested our first Scarlet runner bean off a plant which came up on it’s own … the seeds were planted last year and are known as 7 year beans because they come back each year (great for the less than perfect gardener)

I also harvested the last of our Morello cherries,

the last of our gooseberries as well as some artichokes

and close to the end of our summer raspberries ….

I can’t recommend raspberries and strawberries enough. After only 3 years of gardening we’ve fed a family of four on strawberries and raspberries every day since the first of November. The Strawberries started in November and the raspberries started on the 1st December. For two weeks they overlapped and now, as the raspberries are coming to an end, the strawberries are starting to crop again – as long as you keep cutting off the runners so that they make berries, not more plants. Rhubarb has also been going strong since the end of winter and today I stewed up a huge pot of rhubarb with apples and raisins. Add to that the gooseberries and the redcurrants which cropped in December

and the peaches and apricots which are just ripening now …. it’s actually possible to be fruit self sufficient over summer. I’m making sure I put a few aside in the freezer after each picking so that we’ll have some when summer’s over too.

But back to Gaza and the UN 2009 International Reconciliation Year ……

Peter Gabriel put it well in the 80’s in the opening lines of his song “Not One Of Us”

It’s only water
In a stranger’s tear

Not One Of Us

It’s only water
In a stranger’s tear
Looks are deceptive
But distinctions are clear
A foreign body
And a foreign mind
Never welcome
In the land of the blind
You may look like we do
Talk like we do
But you know how it is

You’re not one of us
Not one of us
No you’re not one of us
Not one of us
Not one of us
No you’re not one of us

There’s safety in numbers
When you learn to divide
How can we be in
If there is no outside
All shades of opinion
Feed an open mind
But your values are twisted
Let us help you unwind
You may look like we do
Talk like we do
But you know how it is

You’re not one of us
Not one of us
No you’re not one of us

NB. Clicking on any of the highlighted text in this article takes you to another site worth reading.

7 thoughts on “2009 International Reconciliation Year

  1. Buffalo Ken

    I’m one of you and are numbers can are are and I hope will add up.

    My heart goes out to all the children and families in Gaza. What a shame.


  2. Buffalo Ken

    Sorry, I messed up a bit on that last post. Nobody is perfect. Hopefully you understand my sentiment. I am listed as one of the participants.
    Man, just now I kind of wish I was in Australia. Heyley Legg lives there I think and she can play and sing. Plus, if you must know there is a bunch of “thorium” in Australia (look it up on Wiki if you are interested). Thorium unlike uraniam could be sustainable cause the theory suggests that the waste lasts only a few centuries. This is still a long time, but much less than what comes from Uranium.

    Peace everyone and I support this website. I have for a long time.


  3. Buffalo Ken

    Lis – you know what I think.

    2009 IS gonna be a year of Reconciliation. A tumultous one, but one of reconnection nonetheless. An inflection point if you will. I’m excited about it.

    2008 for me was a year of learning, but now I’m ready for implementation just as you have been doing.


    P.S. sorry for any typos in advance….

  4. Buffalo Ken

    oh yeah, i also think this even though it is so sad and should have been unavoidable.

    Isreal will be left behind for they have committed the latest, and in this way the most grave, offense. Its time to learn about suffering of innocence, which in my humble opinion, holds power reminiscent. Power omnipotent.

    Time tells.

  5. Buffalo Ken

    It was all “avoidable”, but its happened so lets move on…..

    2009 – Its gonna be a year like no other…

    No more posts from me for awhile, but thanks for the link to Heyley Legg – she is great and so is Australia.

    typing from Charlotte, NC (land of Charlatans…)

  6. J

    It’s also Birth Trauma Awareness Year in 2009 so it’s a big one all round!

    Thank you for your lovely blog!

Comments are closed.