Physicist and activist Dr. Vandana Shiva and Lauren Bon of Metabolic Studio to discuss creative life in the context of our new social reality.
Dr. Vandana Shiva is an Indian physicist and social activist. Shiva founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Natural Resource Policy (RFSTN), an organization devoted to developing sustainable methods of agriculture, in 1982.
She received a master’s degree in the philosophy of science from Guelph University, Ontario, in 1976. She earned her a doctorate from the department of philosophy at the University of Western Ontario in 1978. Shiva developed an interest in environmentalism during a visit home, where she discovered that a favourite childhood forest had been cleared and a stream drained so that an apple orchard could be planted. After completing her degrees, Shiva returned to India, where she worked for the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institute of Management. In 1982 she founded RFSTN, later renamed the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology (RFSTE).
Shiva proceeded to work on grassroots campaigns to prevent clear-cut logging and the construction of large dams. She was perhaps best known, however, as a critic of Asia’s Green Revolution, an international effort that began in the 1960s to increase food production in less-developed countries through higher-yielding seed stocks and the increased use of pesticides and fertilizers. The Green Revolution, she maintained, had led to pollution, a loss of indigenous seed diversity and traditional agricultural knowledge, and the troubling dependence of poor farmers on costly chemicals. In response, RFSTE scientists established seed banks throughout India to preserve the country’s agricultural heritage while training farmers in sustainable agricultural practices.
In 1991 Shiva launched Navdanya, meaning “Nine Seeds,” or “New Gift” in Hindi. The project, part of RFSTE, strove to combat the growing tendency toward monoculture promoted by large corporations. Navdanya formed over 40 seed banks in India and attempted to educate farmers on the benefits of conserving their unique strains of seed crops.
In 1993 she was the recipient of the Right Livelihood Award.
Lauren Bon is an environmental artist from Los Angeles, CA. Her practice, Metabolic Studio, explores self-sustaining and self-diversifying systems of exchange that feed emergent properties that regenerate the life web. Some of her works include: Not A Cornfield, which transformed and revived an industrial brownfield in downtown Los Angeles into a thirty-two-acre cornfield for one agricultural cycle; 100 Mules Walking the Los Angeles Aqueduct, a 240-mile performative action that aimed to reconnect the city of Los Angeles with the source of its water for the centenary of the opening of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Her studio’s current work, Bending the River Back into the City, aims to utilize Los Angeles’ first private water right to deliver 106-acre feet of water annually from the LA River to over 50 acres of land in the historic core of downtown LA. This model can be replicated to regenerate the 52-mile LA River, reconnect it to its floodplain and form a citizens’ utility.
In the RIVER RAIL (Special Issue, 2019)
This conversation in collaboration with Metabolic Studio’s Interdependence Salon.
About Metabolic Studio’s Interdependence Salons
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” — Buckminster Fuller
A declaration of interdependence must be followed by a practice of interdependence. Achieving this interdependence takes both seeing and doing, both vision and action. A new collective vision is needed, centered and prioritized around the common good and community. Learn more »