Again I am thankful that Romania is “far behind” enough to still try reaching away from and beyond such grotesque aberrations.
As I write these words the entire movie is available for viewing:
Again I am thankful that Romania is “far behind” enough to still try reaching away from and beyond such grotesque aberrations.
As I write these words the entire movie is available for viewing:
It’s summer time and people are naturally moving around more … goin away on vacation … and this has generated some friction with Cutia Taranului. People have been making last minute cancellations. Sometimes the cancellation is done responsibly … the peasant is notified a week in advance or by email. But sometimes they are occuring irresponsibly … cancelling by telephone or email a day or two before delivery or even not being at home and not answering a phone when delivery is already in progress.
It is fairly clear, to me and I hope to others, that the irresponsible behavior is … well irresponsible, inexcusable, disrepsectul … and should simply not happen. That is easy and obvious. However it is the “responsible” cancellation that I want to address.
Cutia Taranului is about fostering a mutual, complimentary and stable relationship between peasants and members. That last part … stable is a key ingredient. It is a peasant’s responsibility to grow and deliver food regularly … that is obvious to everyone (though it is far from trivial). But what about a member’s responsibility to stablity? If this is to be a mutual and reciprocal relationship … how should a member who goes on vacation for a week behave? The easy and again obvious solution is to cancel the delivery for that week. But is there a better solution … one that is built around a mutual aspiration for stabiity and reliability? For example, if you are going out of town for a week how about giving your box to a neighbor or family relative? Maybe they will enjoy it so much that they too will want to join the box?
If you shop in the supermarket then one of the inherent luxuries is that you only shop when you need and want to. Is it obvious that this behavior should be applied to Cutia Taranului? We can tell you for a fact that in some cases peasants DO NOT sell available produce in city markets because they prioritize and set it aside for their Cutia Taranului boxes. We can tell you for a fact that some products such as baked goods begin days in advance … the boxes are prepared fresh and by order. How can you, as box members reciprocate this commitment? Should you? I don’t have a clear answer … but I do believe that the question needs to be asked and that conscious and responsible decisions can be valuable. Don’t you?
If you have udeas on how to deal with this situation responsibly as a box-member then please leave a comment so that others may benefit from your approach to this issue.
Yesterday started out as a regular day. We did a neighbor round in the morning – starting with fresh milk, then some vegetables from Ildi and a short visit with Maria. By the time we got home it was too hot to work outside so I continued working on the Cutia Taranului information system.
I do need to mention that we have a fourth dog … our neighbors wanted to get rid of him (irresponsibly … as dogs are usually treated here in villages) … so we decided to take him in. This happened the day before yesterday. He is a beautiful dog and very responsive … but he needs to get used to the new place (he got away twice and ended back at his previous home) and to us. He was tied up his whole life and continues to be tied up here … though we do take him for short walks … and he will eventually be free like our other dogs. His name is Rex.
So back to yesterday … in the early afternoon Andreea went outside for a “stale bread round” … treating all the animals … flock and dogs. Her last stop was Rex. She went to him and as we treat our other dogs assertively requested that he sit and be calm before receiving the bread. However she did it with a hand gesture … The dog panicked and attacked and bit her … right through to the bone. Indy came to Andreea’s rescue (she was already nearby … as she always is when food is involved) and attacked Rex … he then diverted his attention from Andreea to Indy.
Andreea called out to me panicked … I ran out and found her barely standing and her left arm punctured in numerous places … with at least one gushing blood. She moved inside and we wrapped a towel to stop the bleeding … which fortunately worked. But then shock kicked in … she was experiencing both excruciating pain and fear. Then her hand began to go numb … which reduced the pain but increased the fear. I improvised something to stabilize her arm and we decided to finally pay a visit to the emergency room in Cluj.
Given what Andreea knows and what we’ve heard about Romanian hospitals the experience was surprsingly smooth and pleasant. The bite indeed went all the way to the bone and tore through a ligament … but the damage did not warrant any intervenion. It should heal on its own. Within just over an hour we left the hospital with Andreea’s arm bandaged.
We made a few additional stops. The first was in a pharmacy right across the street from the hospital to fill an antibiotics prescription. Second was in a natural products shop to pick up a few tinctures Andree wanted to apply herself. Third was to purchase some bread … since Andreea isn’t going to be baking any in the coming days. Last to pick up some wood-finishing materials we forgot to pick during the previous visit.
When we got home I sent Andreea inside and unloaded the car. During the last round I took too many things in my arms and dropped at the doorstep one of the wood-finishing material cans. It opened quite easily (as it never does when I want it too) and spilled … almost completely. I cursed … then took a breath … and then brough a piece of sponge and spread the finishing material on the doorstep itself (which was wood we put in but never got around to finishing) and on the bug-screen external door I recently added.
It was one of those days.
In the night the rains finally came … plentiful rains … I awoke to a cloudy and wet day. The rain felt like some kind of reset button … both for the thirsty plants and for emotional-me. Andreea will wake up soon and hopefully be feeling better too.
We had a very wet spring this year. We had plenty of rain but less early warmth. Corn grew early and fast however vegetables were slower to grow.
IMPACT1: Field grown vegetables have been growing slower then last year.
But then the rain stopped and people got religious … some more then others. Some people have no irrigation solutions so they get really religious really fast as they watch their crops dry. Others have small water-holes created not by gathering rain but by excavating until they penetrates an aquifer so that springs create a small reservoire of water. They use gas-driven pumps to move water into the fields and have been watching the water level go way down … so their religion is a bit more laid back … but still … they too are praying for rains.
IMPACT2: Peasants income is late to appear and to a degree in doubt this year.
IMPACT3: Peasants live in fear.
IMPACT4: Cutia Taranului members need to be patient … investing more energy then they thought they would in this mutual relationship with their fellow peasants.
By now the corn too is starting to show signs of dryness. It had a great start but it too needs water to continue growing.
IMPACT5: There may be less yield of corn, less to feed the animals, more expenses in buying feed … coupled with less income from selling food = difficult.
The pastures have given good yield so far but may not continue to yield enough hay for another cutting. Hay needs to be cut in dry conditions so that it can dry in the sun before it is collected … so summer is pretty much the only time
IMPACT6: Gradually less and less small peasant families with 2 or 3 cows … much work, not enough value … and way too much trouble.
This morning we awoke to a hopeful drizzle. It paused and later turned into a promising summer rain … that lasted 20 minutes … then the sun came out and the hope went away. Within a couple of hours most of the earth was again dry. Rain … it is so immediate, so powerful, so far reaching. Of course the worries may be eased at least temporaily somewhat with a few rains … but the instablity and fears remain.
We hope Cutia Taranului will create stability for both consumers in the city and peasant producers. Yet we ar convinced that selling food is just one (though a critical) step on on the way. The way food is grown will have to change too … water supply is diminishing (water tables are dropping), the earth (yes, even AND especially the earth that will supply the wonderful vegetables that will begin delivery next week) is dying, work is getting harder and weather is becoming less predictable and more extreme (it isn’t global warming that worries peasants, it’s singular local events that threatens their livelihood).
For me, that’s the heart and motivation of Cutia Taranului. We live and grow our food in the same weather conditions, we face similar challenges. We have already begun to explore alternative approaches that create better and more resilient conditions and we hope, through Cutia Taranului, to both continue our exploration and then share our experiences in the hope that stability can be achieved in the face of coming uncertainties.
It’s been a long day and it’s also been a while since I’ve written a daily update … and so here goes 🙂 Some days are, like this one, really long and don’t leave much space or energy to write … other days are long and restful/sleepy and also don’t leave much space or energy to write 🙂
Yes, we’ve finally found some long overdue rest … the rest we were looking forward to but couldn’t find during winter has arrived in these long and hot summer days. Mornings and evenings are good time for working outside … the rest of the days is either indoors or in the workshop.
Most mornings I spend in a new foundation practice … chopping wood. We purchased 12 cubic meters of hardwood … it’s a lot … as is cutting it up. It can’t be put off too long because (a) we want the wood to dry well and (b) as weeks go by it does dry and harden up and become that much more difficult to cut. Cutting involves three jobs: chainsaw slicing, axe chopping and piling for storage. I’ve gotten much better at using and sharpening the chainsaw. For every session of chainsaw cutting I am left with 2 or 3 sessions of chopping and storing. I am also getting more creative in my chopping approach … I have different approaches depending on the size and shape of wood. I am not yet cutting the pieces to their final shape … long and relatively thin pieces suitable for rocket stoves … but stopping at thin enough slices which in the future I can slice into thinner strips as needed. The reason is that the current task is quite challenging and the additional slicing would make it even longer.
After a break we drove to a nearby forest andcame back with a car full of sacks filled with leaves. They are intended as mulch for the raised beds … which are suffering from lack of water (due to them having been built in late spring, not enough proper mulch available when we built them and hot days with no rain).
We came back and I went to the workshop. I completed preparing all the pieces for our bed headboard. It isn’t too complicated a project but it has some firsts. It includes fairly long boards and curves. Tomorrow (if weather permits) I can get started with finishing.
Then I joined Andreea and we went to the raised beds. We did some more weeding and mulching … using a combination of sheeps-wool and the leaves we brought from the forest. They weren’t enough for all the beds … but the part we did looks great. We wet it a bit (since our well is running low too) … and let’s hope for the best. We focused on the peppers which were looking the saddest.
We’ve showered – it was relatively easy to heat the boiler since it still had hot water from yesterday. The chickens and ducks are settled in for the night … going to feed the dogs. Andreea just handed me a slice of freshly baked bread … they are getting better every time 🙂 Soon dinner … and … good night 🙂
Romanian politics have managed to infiltrate into my consciouess through the very thin and filtered funnel of information that reaches me from the world. I know very little about Romanian government or politics. I don’t know more because every time I’ve thought about learning more I realized I don’t want nor feel a need to know more. In my mind there is practically no government in Romania. There is an inevitable beaurocratic system that runs parallel day to day life … beyond that there is a void.
Void’s tend to fill up and the void that was where a Romanian government should have been has indeed filled up with two powerful substances that are heating up and heading towards combustion. One lethal substance is corruption – a persistent residue left behind from communist and dicatorship times. The other lethal substance is corporate greed which has probably always been present but escalated dramatically since Romania joined the EU and became
addicted to dependent on EU/IMF “bailout” funding. The bad news is that corruption and greed bind tightly to each other … the good news is that they also burn out together.
This burning out is apparent all over the world … even (and especially?) in so called democracies where corruption is not supposed to be as dominant a factor. Economic collapses, disasters and corruption are outranked only by the outraged voices speaking helplessly out against them. I assume that these economic waves have sent out ripples here in Romania as well, but it seems to me that to a lesser degree (I haven’t heard, yet?, of any banks collapsing in Romania).
When I lived in Israel this, oh so typical, combination of local government corruption and global financial storms worried me. My life was tightly integrated and dependent on money which in turn was strongly influenced by both. However here in Romania, where both the corruption runs deeper and after the world economic crisis has continued to escalate, I am not worried. Not at all. I’m not worried because we live a village life. Plants are very sensitive to water (rains are expected this weekend and during next week) … however they are relatively immune to politics, economics and corruption. The same goes for chickens, cows, goats, sheep and pigs – they all continue to grow and produce regardless of any political or financial turmoil. Horses and carriages (unlike tractors)
are unmoved by continue to move regardless of the rising prices of gas. Life here is resilient.
When I say “here” I don’t just mean our village … but village-life in Romania. Village life in Romania is not a neglibile phenomenon, it represents almost half of the population … it IS Romania. This makes Romania, as a country (in my mind) a relatively resilient place. Resilient enough to withstand corruption and greed? I don’t know and I am not waiting around to find out.
I prefer Romanian corruption to developed, western, industrialized/capitalized corruption. I prefer it because it is visible and blunt. It makes an easier target then, for example, western corruption where money and politics are in bed together behind close doors. Here in Romania politicians are childish compared to their western counterparts … they do everything out in the open.
The question is what to do about it? I am not one to go marching in the streets in protest. Protesting against something is not in my nature and, in my opinion, not enough (the current political situation in Romania is a direct result of the protests held here just a few months ago) … there has to be an alternative constructive path to complement destruction. Romanian politics have (in a few months) gone through most of the alternatives … and what we currently see is simply what is left. Upcoming national elections are practically meaningless if all you can do is choose between not choosing and choosing the best of the worst.
My opinion is that instead of picking an unwinnable fight, it is better to step back, regroup and to aim to completely circumvent existing problems. Cutia Taranului is an example of such a strategy. Local grown Romanian produce has been pushed aside by many social, market and political forces. I am resisting a temptation to make a short list of these forces … I believe they all deserve deep caring inspection and attention. I will instead give one current example of a destructive policy about to go into effect.
If you are a Romanian peasant who, for example, saves tomatoe seeds (very easy to do) from this years tomatoes to plant next year, you may find that next year you will not be allowed to sell those tomatoes in markets (or any other official channel). Current legislation (I don’t know exactly where it is in the legislative process) will make it illegal to sell produce that was not grown from authorized purchased seeds (with proper paperwork to prove it) … making it illegal to sell produce grown from saved seeds. This is a direct product of greed (agro-businesses interested in selling their seeds) and corruption (local politicians making a profit from cooperating with agro-businesses). Mind you, this immoral, unsustainable, dangerous change is going to be perfectly “legal”.
Cutia Taranului was born when I asked myself what could be done about the current situation. I didn’t (and still don’t believe) in trying to fight or change the current reality. I did (and still do) believe in creating an alternate reality: if I am a peasant and you are a friend from the city, nothing can prevent me from giving you food I have grown and nothing can prevent you from paying me something in return for that food. No legal, social or political energy can prevent that from happening. It is in that spirit that Cutia Taranului was created. It is designed to go around all the existing obstacles directly into a new, simple and direct paradigm.
Cutia Taraului provides affordable food safety for city-dwellers and financial safety for peasants. It is a sustainable community that is resilient in the face of current and future political storms (and then some). It is also a strategy I would to see replicated on a national scale. I hope to be able to support and partake in an effort to create an alternative socio-political reality, in the spirit of Cutia Taranului, that will completely circumvent the existing and dominant socio-political forces and propel Romania into a new, simpler and more direct social paradigm.
Because of its immature political culture I believe Romania is a unique position not only to better itself but also to become a role model for other countries. In Greece there is talk of a “potato revolution” and people are turning to farming to escape economic collapse. In the midst of economic collapse Greece is trying to become, of all things, Romania! If you put on the right shade of glasses you will see that (a) Romania is in many ways ahead of the curve and (b) staying true to this course requires inventing a new future rather then expending energy on impossible obstacles.
Like it or not, our relationship to Earth is changing. Indeed, our consciousness has changed already … We all want ecological healing. We all want to enter into a new relationship to Earth. Our consciousness has shifted from the early-20th century ideal of conquering nature. However, our institutions, whether money or politics, are not yet in accordance with our changed consciousness. They trap us into behavior that no one really chooses and render us helpless to avert our collision course with catastrophe.
Cutia Taranului is not enough but I think it is facing in the right direction … and it is no coincidence that it has taken root so well in, of all places, Romania 🙂