Time for a Revolution: on Paris, soil and young farmers

Time for a Revolution: on Paris, soil and young farmers
Participants in the youth leadership summit at the Northern Farm Training Institute in Hay River take in the sights on a break from programming.Photo courtesy of Kim Rapati.

This is not the article I expected to write, but recent events have lit up lightbulbs that I have to share. Something really stood out while I was listening to a CBC interview the other day; the interviewee said that there is one thing that is similar about all the people who attacked Paris and it is not their race, religion or nationality – it is their youth.

They were all young people. This realization shocked and horrified … what has happened that there are so many unattached and hopeless young people who have turned to such extremism?

Well, that brought to mind the presentation our Savory Hub leader from Turkey gave at a recent conference which was titled Best Time for a Youthful Revolution. Durukan Dudu is one of the most energetic and inspiring young men I have ever met. He lives in a highly diverse, fractured and vibrant context.

“I believe we have assumptions about what young people want,” he said. “I asked this young person who was curious about my life, ‘what is it that you want from your life?’ And she told me these five things … she wants to work hard and towards something that she can see is making things better, she wants all her efforts to be recognized, she wants to have a joyful social life where she can connect with others and she wants compensation for what she does. That’s it. She didn’t even say money, just compensation. What separates us from what people think of us is that what we seek is to have a meaningful life.”

A little note – the “she” Durukan mentioned in his speech was actually my good friend from Edmonton, Denika Piggott. She works for ALUS Alberta (Alternative Land Use Systems) which is a program that communities administer in which they pay farmers in their area for “ecosystem services” that they provide as large land owners. This means farmers have an incentive to protect wetlands, conserve special wildlife habitat, regenerate soil and people near them are recognizing that their work is important. Check it out at alus.ca.

Durukan talked about how his farm education centre’s aim is to capture and fulfill that youthful need that is going unfulfilled; to work for something bigger than ourselves, to be acknowledged for our skills and to live a life connected with others. I wonder if could have grabbed the attention of those other young people who turned to extremism?

Desertification all over the world is causing poverty and war. Young people all over the world are disengaged and feeling their life is without purpose. Farmers everywhere are approaching retirement and the next generation to work their farm is not there. Something that can tie all of these things together: young people learning about regenerative farming that creates enduring returns and fits into their social context. This is something we can do here in Hay River, and through the Savory Network, all over the world.

On that note, there are over 190 nations meeting in a few weeks at the Paris climate change negotiations – leaders who are working for a solution to our collective world problems. What if we all worked to put carbon back in the soil, while growing food and employing young people to rejuvenate their landscapes? Daniela Ibarra-Howell, who is the CEO of the Savory Institute, is heading there to represent the Savory Network and is bringing a Soil Manifesto, signed by our network and our friends all over, which urges leaders to consider soil and the hopeful potential it has. Please join us in celebrating this and signing the Soil Manifesto. You can do it online at http://savory.global/soilforclimate or come to the Soil for Climate event in Hay River Dec. 4 at the Library at 7 p.m.

Is it crazy that we can do something from our homes here in the Northwest Territories that will be brought to international leadership and potentially have a great impact on our beautiful, complex and intimately connected earth? We can do it!

Kim Rapati is the operations manager at the Northern Farm Training Institute in Hay River.

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