IPC 11 in Cuba 2013/Report

IPC 11 in Cuba

U.S. Delegation to the 11th International Permaculture Convergence in Havana and Los Cocos, CUBA, November 24 – December 7, 2013.

11th INTERNATIONAL PERMACULTURE CONVERGENCE

ECN's largest, proudest, most time-consuming and most promising project of 2013 was our involvement in the 11th International Permaculture Convergence (IPC), held over a 2 – 4 week period in November and December 2013, with 500 participants from over 60 countries.  The theme of this year’s IPC was permaculture on islands and in cities facing the Climate Change Challenge.

Our large group of over 80 participants from 20 states, and additional tens of US citizens who traveled to Cuba independently with our assistance, including US citizens currently working in development projects abroad, has returned from Cuba “fired up and ready to go!”   

ECN, FANJ AND THE IPC 11

ECN’s involvement with the IPC began in the spring of 2011 when the Antonio Nunez Jimenez Foundation for Nature and Humanity (FANJ), one of our primary host organizations in Cuba, one of the oldest environmental organizations in Cuba, and the center of the permaculture movement in Cuba) asked us to organize a U.S. speaking tour for their Environmental Education and Biodiversity Director, Roberto Perez, who is featured prominently in the film The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil

The purpose of the 2011 speaking tour was not only to educate the U.S. permaculture community on Cuba’s 20 year development of permaculture, island-wide, but also to bring more awareness to the issue of the U.S. embargo of Cuba and to ask for the assistance of the U.S. permaculture community in FANJ’s quest to have Cuba be chosen as the site of the 2013 IPC. That assistance was forthcoming. In the fall of 2011, after a second speaking tour with Roberto Perez, it was announced that we had succeeded in reaching that goal.

The 11th International Permaculture Convergence would be held in Havana and Los Cocos, Cuba! This would be the first time the IPC was held in a country close enough to the U.S. that substantial U.S. participation was a real possibility, and FANJ knew that ECN’s assistance would be invaluable in reaching that goal.

ECN was then asked by FANJ to help arrange the travel to Cuba for U.S. participants due to the challenges we all knew that U.S. citizens would face trying to figure out Cuba travel on their own.  This was announced on the official IPC 11 website.

ECN viewed the choice of Cuba for the IPC 11, and our involvement with it, as an opportunity to get to know environmental/sustainability workers all over the U.S. and introduce them to the issue of the U.S. embargo of Cuba and the relationship between their struggles in the U.S. and the struggles of the Cuban people to overcome the hardships they are forced to endure, as well as their sustainability triumphs!

We promoted the IPC 11 widely among our Network and among the U.S. Permaculture community, who in turn promoted it on their websites and facebook pages. 

In the end there were around 150 U.S. participants in the IPC in Cuba, out of the 500 participants from all over the world and Cuba, almost one third of the participants.

One of the most exciting things about our 80+ ECN delegation is that each participant is part of a larger organization, association and/or community of sustainability activists in their region of the U.S. The potential for each one of the IPC participants to reach many more like-minded citizens regarding their positive experience of Cuba is considerable, perhaps extraordinary!

Pandora at IPC
Pandora Thomas, co-founder of the Black Permaculture Network, speaking at the IPC 11 on her permaculture work in the California prison system and the significance of permaculture in the African American community.

ECO CUBA NETWORK IPC SCHOLARSHIP ASSISTANCE

ECN was able to provide partial IPC scholarships for 3 urban food activists: Carla Perez of the Oakland-based community development organization Movement Generation; Rashid Gilanpour: California Permaculture Network & Living Mandala; Luis Fernando Chavez  of the Mission Community Center, San Francisco, CA

Two organizational members of our Eco Cuba Network were able to support the participation of 8 additional participants to the IPC 11:

* Black Permaculture Network, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, subsidized the participation of Pandora Thomas: Earth Seed Consulting; Zakiya Harris: Earth Seed Consulting; Dara Cooper:NYC Food & Fitness Partnership, Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, Brooklyn, NY (Read Dara’s IPC article); & William Redwine: Peace on Earthbench & Creating the Alternative organizations in Dallas, Texas. 

* Cubanakoa Foundation, of Honolulu, HI, subsidized for the IPC: Keli’i Gannet: Alternative Structures International & the Asia-Pacific Center for Regenerative Design; Laurien Nuss: The Pacific Gateway Center: Non-Profit Project Manager on promoting sustainable food access in immigrant communities). Also subsidized, to participate in the Hawaii-Havana Culture and Sustainability exchange, that began the day the IPC ended, 3 core members of the Cubanakoa Foundation: Jesus Puerto: founder and director; Father Phil Harmon: Alternative Structures International and the Kahumana Community, Organic Farm & Café) & Laurien Nuss.

ROBERTO PEREZ SPEAKING TOUR
Roberto 2013 speaking tour poster

The build-up to the IPC, in the summer and fall of 2013, involved helping to organize, with the large permaculture community across the US, a third whirlwind speaking tour for Roberto Perez. Roberto, who had previously toured California and Hawaii, with ECN assistance, visited the following cities and states: Miami, Washington,DC, New York City, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Seattle, Portland OR, San Francisco Bay Area, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Fe & Albuquerque, NM.

So, the first Roberto Perez U.S. speaking tour in 2011 was extremely instrumental in Cuba being chosen to host the 2013 IPC. 

The second and third tours enhanced ECN’s IPC recruitment potential. 

The many U.S. permaculturists who had attended Roberto’s talks and workshops, and/or saw the film in which Roberto is featured, The Power of Community, were most eager to experience Cuba for themselves.  They raised funds widely in their communities across the U.S. in order to be able to participate in the IPC.  Many arrived in Cuba days or weeks early and/or stayed afterwards to absorb more of Cuban reality in terms of environmental protection and sustainable development.

CONCLUSION

The result of this labor of love on the part of so many people in the U.S. and Cuba over a period of two years, the last six months of which were pretty much 24/7 for the main organizers, involving three U.S. speaking tours, numerous showings of The Power of Community film, and tens of U.S.-Cuba sustainable agriculture exchange delegations:

The IPC participants voted to work to end the U.S. embargo of Cuba! Could this be the further evolution of the Cuba Solidarity Movement?

MORE ARTICLES, PHOTOS, BLOGS ON THE IPC 11 & WEBSITES FOR PERMACULTURE NETWORKS