(I am looking for people interested)… in collaborating to bring a “Research, Training and Innovation Center for Ecological Restoration” to Jordan. I’m trying to figure out the next best steps forward and could use your help. It feels urgent that we act but it also is crucial that when we act we are successful.
To summarize what has happened so far with the Jordan project. A few months ago I was in shock and denial about what was going on in Syria and Gaza and felt a need to somehow engage with the region in a non-violent and positive way. Having been in Jordan I know that the landscape is massively degraded and working in restoration I know that it can be restored. It seems to me that a collaborative way to restore the area is greatly needed and could have a very positive effect in lowering the tension in the region. This felt right and when I mentioned it on Social Media all indicators suggested that this was something that many people around the world could support. I contacted friends who have developed the Royal Botanic Garden in After (above) and before restoration Jordan and others who direct the Permaculture Research Institute.
Robert Senftleben and I were together at the Summer of Soil in Sweden in July, 2013 where I introduced the idea of “Research, Training and Innovation Centers for Ecological Restoration”. This concept was chosen as the best idea at the Summer of Soil and theoretical discussions of how to make these were begun. Various forums discussed this and the ideas evolved.
There has been zero funding for this so far but it continues to seem like exactly the right thing to do in order to open hearts and minds around the world to provide a courageous, effective and humanitarian response to counter the fear and violence in the region. The idea being that the center that emerges is inclusive welcoming all who share the same goals rather than try to be “OWNED” by on development agency.
A plan began to emerge to use Crowd Funding as well as traditional development funds if they were made available. We have video capability and if we design carefully, put in place transparent, effective governance, and state perfectly the intention then we expect millions of people worldwide will respond. Maurits Groen who has had success with crowd funding for the WAKA WAKA light and power has promised to assist with this.
During the “Summer of Soil” Robert Senftleben and several other people began to discuss the idea of the “SPARTANS” a group of courageous people who would lead on restoration. Since July 2013, Robert has consistently communicated his desire to follow up on this. When he was ready to develop his Masters Thesis he asked me for advice and I suggested that he write his thesis on creating the “Research, Training and Innovation Center for Ecological Restoration” in Jordan.
Many ideas of how to produce an off grid, energy independent, comprehensive community based training facility have been discussed and some examples in Jordan and elsewhere have been examined.
Robert went to Jordan and began to investigate how this might work. It is hoped that Robert’s work will create a written plan that will be communicable to many and can form the basis of a staged “Crowd Funding” campaign so that physical work can begin.
The first step seems to be to identify a site that can be the permanent home of the Center. As I understand it Princess Basma has offered 15 Hectares near the Amman Airport. To agree to use this land would require some guarantees on the land tenure. Ideal would be a “Community Land Trust” or at the very least a “Benefit Corporation”. Perhaps Habiba could comment on this.
From a logistic perspective and with the eye to optimizing the SPARTAN concept we have thought about using Mongolian GER (YURTS) for housing in the beginning as this will make basic and relatively elegant accommodations available immediately and allow for the team to then produce super-insulated, passive solar, Earth Architecture permanent infrastructure. When the permanent facilities and local staff are beginning to emerge the SPARTANS could be moved to another site to begin the process again. Once they have done this a few times they will be well on their way to being a very strong force for restoration.
From the restoration perspective what is required is to build a water retention landscape incorporating all best practice water harvesting techniques. I would also highly recommend using this opportunity to gather all ancient Earthen based water storage and irrigation systems. Importing large quantities of safe organic matter to stimulate soil formation is also highly recommended. Seed identification, propagation and nursery systems. Permaculture agriculture, orchards, food forests, animal husbandry all need to be integrated. I would recommend Geoff Lawton taking the lead on the integrated design.
Robert is now in Europe for the holidays and will return to Jordan on January 11th. He will remain until February 1st. I’m speaking with Peter Sims (Robert’s academic supervisor from KAOSPILOTS) on Monday. I’m flying later that day home to Beijing for the first time in months. I’ll try to find a time to debrief Robert on his initial time in Jordan then.
Michael Karner is another student who has come forward and linked his Masters Thesis to this practical work. Michael will travel to Jordan in the last week of February.
I think we need to write a brief 2 page staged plan that succinctly and I hope Robert and Michael will work on this.
When we have the site, administrative governance structure and the written plan we should begin to raise Crowd Sourced Funds as well as seek developmental support.
Paul Clarke, Sokha Hin, Peter Bal have all suggested that they could help with this efforts. They are strong on networking and social media. I’d like to hear what they feel that they can contribute.
I believe also that this will be a great film or an episode of the series “THE ART OF HEALING THE EARTH”. Having the media component could help generate more understanding and support. I look forward to making this.
So this is what I understand of this concept now. I can’t think of anything that I would rather do at the moment and I hope that we will find within and without this small group strong support for the objectives and specific ideas of how to move quickly and effectively forward to achieve this goal.
Be very well and happy.
John D. Liu