The International Permaculture Conference
The International Permaculture Conference was giving Cuba a highlight with its 11th meeting. Habana Libre Hotel in Havana was buzzing with all the permaculturalists from 64 different countries hugging, laughing, refinding each other after years or making new connections.
The Gala Dinner was our first meeting in a beautiful “club” in the Vedado neighbourhood of Havana with a great porch to hang out on with a drink and new and old connections to encounter. A shower of rain did little to disturb the high spirit of the dinner. Cuban music was played loud and rum was put on our tables and so the party started.
Spot a few known faces from The Conference in this short video (Presentations will be available later).
Continue reading IPC 11 CUBA – The Conference
CUBA – land of promises, hopes and permaculture!
Cubans are proud of their island in the Caribbean under the tropical sun. Any Cuban will tell you stories of the Independence wars and the Revolution, and murals of Che Guevara, historical sites of the Revolution and songs about its heroes are as abundant as the turkey-vultures circling overhead. There was a time in the 1960s when any literate person above 14 years of age would be sent off to an illiterate region to teach. Cubans have always valued education, and the education system is free, resulting in near to 100% literacy and one of Cuba’s greatest assets.
With the nationalisation of US businesses and their infrastructure following the takeover of Cuba by the revolutionary troops in 1959, the US instituted a full trade embargo in 1961. The Special Period started after the breakdown of the Soviet Union in 1990, as the USSR was Cuba’s primary trading partner, resulting in strongly diminished access to oil and scarcity of food and most other imported commodities. This put rationing of food on the menu, which is still in practice today. The Special Period has not really ended yet because of the persisting US embargo. Thus sugar, eggs and kerosene for cooking is still delivered in the “Bodegas” rationing shops. The current system ensures cheap access to a certain amount of food, and you can then buy more if you want to, but not at a subsidised price.
The second part of the IPC was the Convergence that took place at the beach resort “Los Cocos”. We stayed five or six people in each bungalow, sparsely equipped, but sufficient for our needs. Some organising and rescheduling of activities made the program run smoothly with five streams of presentations and several open spaces for deeper discussions. Cuban food was on the menu with generous portions of congri (a mix of rice and beans), chicken, fish, yams, cabbage and guava sauce.
Literally hundreds of speakers were on the program, so it was impossible to retain all the learning and resources that was given. In all 423 people attended the convergence.
Video: What people harvested from The Convergence
Read about The Conference here. For an extremely short introduction to Cuba click here.
Keep reading about a few selected highlights of The Convergence and Havana tour beneath.