For an agricultural and ecological exception…

As a founding member of the Michel Serres Institute for Resources and Public Goods, I received a link to this manifesto and a request to sign. I am posting it here because food is at least as important as other cultural goods, if not more so, since it is essential to survival. Read if you have a few minutes, and sign if you are so moved.

Food ExceptionFor an agricultural and ecological exception

It is widely accepted that certain cultural goods, instead of being considered merely as merchandise, should be kept separate from trade on the free market, with the aim of protecting the traditions and the vitality of all cultures and, ultimately, of protecting our shared humanity. Should this not also be the case for food – that is, for the very goods and services which provide for the basic human need to eat? Because eating is an inherently human, vital and social act, it is important for all of mind, body and spirit. Wherever we might be, whilst living or eating or farming, we may often think along the lines of the philosopher Heraclitus who, questioned as to why he was fascinated by a simple bread oven, replied: ‘Because even here the gods are present’. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was drawn up following the end of the Second World War. The GATT is considered a prelude to both the formation of the World Trade Organisation and of globalisation along the lines of free trade, and allowed for the exclusion of certain cultural products, including films and important national monuments. It was originally intended that natural resources – the products of farming, forestry and fishing – should also be excluded, but the Havana Charter of 1948 which would have established this was in fact never ratified. The result is that the recognition of a ‘cultural exception’ (exception culturelle in French) does not extend to that of an ‘agricultural exception’. This “agricultural and ecological exception” could be achieved with a new charter, agreement or deal following the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions which was adopted by UNESCO on 20 October 2005.

Such an agreement should have three aims, dovetailing with the definition of food security drawn up by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), i.e. permitting access to sufficient and nutritious food, access to food which is safe, and access to the kind of food that people want. Just as with access to culture, it would not be sufficient to simply have a uniform range of food made available to all through the globalised economy. Many have picked up on the fact that in March 2012 Olivier de Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, commented that today’s systems of food production are ‘making us sick’. Beyond matters of hygiene and overconsumption which can lead to obesity and diabetes, this sickness is moral (e.g. mistrust of industry and loss of diversity); social (indebtedness and decline in the quality of life of farmers); environmental (reduction of bio-cultural and genetic diversity); political (disengagement of the public sector); and economic (the apparent omnipotence of multinational companies and the system of free trade). In this context, it is easy to see how people do not have access to food that is culturally appropriate; and that corresponds to the global diversity of gastronomy, farming systems, traditions and religious considerations. Just as, for example, it is hard to imagine how everyone’s right to culture would be served by only having access to the same few TV series. We believe that just as the diversity of cultural expression needs to be protected, so does that of agricultural (bio)diversity. And this is why we, the undersigned, make the following calls:

1. To emphasize food democracy Big issues in food production should not be the exclusive realm of large firms, lobbyists, unions, technicians and engineers. They are also social and political matters that deserve more than ever to be treated as part of a democratic process. Within the democratised food system that we are calling for, each citizen would be a consequential actor who can judge, taste, evaluate and choose, with the result that public opinion would no longer just be something consulted at the end of the production chain. We, as members of a food democracy, would be on the side of farmers, and would support the principle of food sovereignty. Indeed we would be co-producers, in the sense that we would become more aware of the origin of food, the work of farmers, the conditions livestock are kept in, the way products are made, environmental constraints, commercial considerations, hygiene regulations, matters of nutrition, and ultimately more aware of the sum of cultural and chemosensory properties of food which are as essential to basic human nutritional needs as they are to our shared humanity.

2. To change the current agricultural order To mitigate the worsening conditions experienced by farmers, a top to bottom review of the models of innovation and organisation of farming practices will be necessary. Before the Green Revolution, farmers had to rely on their own experience, expertise and judgments in their farming practice. Now, the food and farming industries, through their R & D departments and laboratories, promote and even dictate innovations. These are then standardised as intellectual property – intellectual property that can even extend to living things – at the same time as farmers become increasingly dependent on innovations which are prejudicial to their own expertise. We want therefore to raise awareness of the bottom-up innovations that come from farmers; innovations which address day-to-day environmental, economic and cultural challenges. It is the mission of alternative agricultural movements and salons to raise awareness of and to help promote the kind of expertise that could change the current agricultural order.

3. An ecological transition in farming There has never been a better time to institute root and branch reforms of the agricultural sector. Social networks will allow farmers and citizens to widely and freely share expertise on the production of food. And, to take only a few examples, we can point to the ever-growing number of ecologically-conscious farming initiatives which are taking place today, such as organics, conservation grade farming, agroecology, agroforestry, permaculture, polyculture, diversification, and so on.

4. To rethink the question of price Contrary to what we might hear from certain quarters at the Salon de l’Agriculture, consumers of food and drink have motivations beyond the bottom line; and their interest in things other than price has been well served through alternative channels of food supply (cooperatives, box schemes, and local food associations, for example). A large-scale rethinking of the question of price would entail a bold new policy of supporting local food networks and investing in rural areas, as well as taking into account the geographic diversity of food crops, the varied cultural importance of different flavours, and gastronomic customs. It would follow therefrom that the exchange value of goods and services could build on their use value; better calibrating the supply of local resources and the demand they can meet. Proponents of free trade argue that the low cost of food supports the growth of democracy, but in fact the opposite is true! The low cost argument – illustrated, for example, by the recent news coverage of the problems relating to the intensive production of cheap pork in Brittany – implies that food has a negligible, almost null value; something shown in how its price, whilst potentially highly volatile, can always be driven lower.

5. To reposition small producers and farmers at the forefront of agricultural innovation Instead of just resisting, saying ‘no’, or imagining a retreat to traditional methods that have lost some of their relevance, we need to valorise and invent new methods of farming, growing, rearing animals, manufacturing food and selling it; activities which draw on experience and expertise but which are also open to experimentation, and which would be central parts of food democracy in the future. What weight does food democracy carry at the moment? Is it an embryonic idea, a minority pursuit, something rather insignificant in comparison to the vast power of the market? Well, if so, history shows us that minorities can brilliantly cultivate new sensibilities and forge new mind-sets, eventually allowing for revolution and great innovation.

6. To respond to health challenges We need to think of the agricultural exception as being in the public interest, a response to global health challenges; the health of citizens, societies and ecosystems. A co-evolution between society and nature is needed, and this would be the primary and immediate condition of a renewed model of civilization. We still need to imagine and put into practice what the agricultural exception could contribute along these lines. We see that there are obvious parallels between the right of access to food and the right of access to culture; this justifies our comparison of an agricultural exception with a cultural one. We hope this initiative by our collective will make it possible to establish an international convention on food democracy along the lines of the convention on culture.

It is with this object in mind that we are calling for an “agricultural exception” and with it, a New Deal for food and farmers.

Sign the manifesto.


Text by Olivier Assouly , Philosopher, specialist of the food François Collart Dutilleul, law professor at the University of Nantes Gilles Fumey, géographe, Professor (teaching and research), Sorbonne-university and ISCC-CNRS Ioan Negrutiu, biologiste, Director of the Institute Michel Serres at the ENS of Lyon Pierre Hivernat, Chief editor of Alimentation Générale Elisabeth Martin, Director of the Alimentation Générale’s events With the mentoring of Michel Serres from the Académie Française


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CFP Middle East Dialogue 2017 (Washington, DC)

Call for Proposals Now Open:
Middle East Dialogue 2017: A New Collective Vision
Friday, March 10, 2017
Held at the historic Whittemore House, Washington DC
RSVP
Call for Proposals – 2017
Middle East Dialogue 2017 Preliminary program 

The Middle East Dialogue is for policy makers, scholars, business and social leaders, to discuss current issues. Its purpose is to promote multidisciplinary conversation about topics that include, but are not limited to education initiatives, social, economic and political reforms, nuclear proliferation, interfaith dialogue, women’s gains and challenges, peace initiatives, and potential areas of conflict. We welcome a spectrum of political and religious persuasions to discuss issues in a spirit of tolerance and free discourse.

The early conference registration fee for speakers is $200 and $250 for conference attendees, due by February 28th, unless previous arrangements have been made*. Late registration fee will be $300 payable and mailed to:
Policy Studies Organization
1527 New Hampshire Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036
* Arrangements can be made to waive the registration fee on a case by case basis. For more information, please contact Development and Programs Associate, Roza Kessaci. Continuous refreshments, breakfast, and lunch, will be available for all those in attendance. There is no fee for students and guests of the PSO and its sponsors.

The Forum is co-chaired by Prof. Mohammed M. Aman of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Editor-in-Chief of Digest of Middle East Studies (DOMES),and Prof. Paul Rich, President of the Policy Studies Organization. It is sponsored by the Policy Studies Organization, The University of Wisconsin, MilwaukeeAmerican Public UniversityDOMES, the Next Century Foundation, and the Capital Communications Group. Other sponsors are invited and will be added.

LINKS:
Call for Proposals – MED2017
Final Program – MED2016

Dialogue across Differences: Public Conversations Project Workshop

Dialogue Across Differences: An Introduction to Reflective Structured Dialogue
September 16, 2016, Watertown, MA
May 16, 2017<, Cambridge, MA

25 years ago, Public Conversations Project created a unique approach to dialogue that promoted connection and curiosity between those who saw one another as the enemy. Our approach has transformed conflicts across the country and the world – but its principles are widely applicable for everyday conversation. An intentional communication process can help individuals, organizations and communities build trust, enhance resilience for addressing future challenging issues, and have constructive conversations with those they otherwise “wouldn’t be caught dead with.”

Learning Objectives:
• Learn basic theory and practice of Public Conversations’ relationship-centered approach to better communication and dialogue.
• Achieve shared, clear, and mutually understood purpose in a conversation.
• Design a framework for a constructive conversation that will encourage people to participate fully, listen actively, and enhance empathy.
• Stimulate self-discovery and curiosity about the “other” through questions that promote connection, curiosity and caring.

Results:
As a result of this workshop, you will be equipped to:
• Communicate with self-confidence about difficult or divisive topics.
• Break destructive communication habits like avoidance, silence, or reactive responses, enabling those in a conversation to feel truly listened to.
• Design conversations, dialogues, or meetings with clear purpose, full participation, and a structure for moving forward.
• Employ effective and satisfying communication exercises in a broad range of personal and professional settings.

Who might participate:
• Executives in the nonprofit, public, or private sectors interested in shifting the culture of communication in their workplace.
• Managers seeking to lead more constructive conversations with a divided, frustrated, or distracted team.
• Clergy looking to broach a challenging concept with their congregation or internal leadership.
• Consultants in strategic communications, strategic planning, or organizational development exploring new ways to improve client relations.
• Administrators seeking to encourage collaboration between departments.

Accreditation:
This workshop is approved for 6 clock hours for national certified counselors, Massachusetts licensed mental health counselors, MA licensed marriage and family therapists, and New Hampshire pastoral psychotherapists. Credits are accepted by the NH Board of Mental Health Practice for all licensed NH mental health professionals. For more information, please see our workshop policies. Public Conversations Project is an NBCC-Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEP™) and may offer NBCC-approved clock hours for events that meet NBCC requirements. The ACEP solely is responsible for all aspects of the program.

For more information, please contact training[at]publicconversations.org

EIUC Training for International Electoral Observers

EIUC training seminar for International Electoral Observers is now ready to accept candidatures.

EIUC has developed two three-day modules aiming at providing training to civilian staff in election observation missions at the first steps of their career (i.e. short term observers). Selected applicants will be allowed to become aware of the role, the tasks and the status of international observers, and will be given a theoretical and practical training on election observation and election observation missions functioning.

The first module (7 – 9 November 2016) will highlight the quantitative observation of the STOs. Starting with a thorough introduction on the international observation theory and legal standards the first module will analyse the practical life of a short term observer from the selection procedure to the end of mission including the observation of the polls, the filling of the forms, the reporting system and the code of the conduct. The methodology will combine frontal lecturers in plenary, working groups as well as role plays, discussions and simulation exercises.

The second module (10 – 12 November 2016) is principally intended as a complementary step for those participants who have already attended the first module. EIUC will nevertheless also accept candidatures from first time applicants to EIUC’s trainings seminars. The second module will introduce the participants to the long-term election observation by analysing in depth some of the aspects related to an international observation mission such as working relations, interviewing techniques, media and security.

EIUC will accept candidatures for each separate module or both combined. Applicants will therefore have a possibility to choose the module which is more closely related to their interests and experience or combine the two of them for a more complete understanding of the topic.

The faculty is composed by well-known international trainers and professionals with a long standing practical experience in election observation missions within international organisations such as the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The deadline for sending applications is 7 October 2016 through the online application form.

For further enquiries please contact EIUC at: training.ieo[at]eiuc.org

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#100andchange MacArthur Foundation grant

#100andchange is a MacArthur Foundation competition to award a $100 million grant for a single proposal designed to help solve a critical problem affecting people, places, or the planet. The competition is open to organizations working in any field of endeavor anywhere. Applicants must identify both the problem they are trying to solve, as well as their proposed solution, and competitive proposals will be meaningful, verifiable, durable, and feasible.

It would be wonderful if some of the people working on the issue of intercultural dialogue were to prepare applications!

Global Pluralism Award 2016

The new Global Pluralism Award recognizes pluralism in action. It celebrates the extraordinary achievements of organizations, individuals and governments who are tackling the challenge of living peacefully and productively with diversity.

The Award is presented once every two years to individuals, organizations, governments and businesses of any nationality. Through their remarkable and sustained achievements, awardees contribute to building more inclusive societies in which human diversity is protected.

Three awardees will be given $50,000 each to further their work in support of pluralism. Award funds must be used for non-profit activities. Awardees will be required to submit a budget with the proposed way in which the funds will be used.

Presented by the Global Centre for Pluralism, an international research and education centre located in Ottawa, Canada, the Award aims to

  • Raise the international profile of pluralism, defined as a principle of respect for diversity,
  • Identify and disseminate innovative and successful approaches to pluralism globally, and
  • Recognize and raise the profile of exemplary organizations, individuals or other entities seeking to advance pluralism.

A wide range of disciplines
Nominees must demonstrate remarkable and sustained achievement in any of the wide range of disciplines related to pluralism. These disciplines include:
*legal reform
*human rights
*democracy promotion
*social cohesion
*education
*ethnic relations
*conflict resolution
*peacebuilding
*migration and integration
Please note that the above is not an exhaustive list.

International Nominees
Eligible nominees from all countries are eligible, including:
*individuals (e.g. artists, journalists, academics, policy-makers, filmmakers, etc.);
*civil society organizations (e.g. professional associations, faith-based organizations, labour unions, non-profit research or educational institutions, local community groups, non-governmental organizations, foundations, think tanks, etc.);
*social enterprises;
*corporations;
*educational, research and policy institutions (public or private);
*local/municipal, regional or federal/national branches of governments, etc.
Please note that the above is not an exhaustive list.

Do you know a pluralism champion?
Award nominations are now being accepted. Nominate or apply before the August 31, 2016 deadline. Nominations for the Award can only be submitted online. Nominations are accepted from nominators or candidates themselves.

The international jury of experts selecting the awardees is chaired by the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark, former Prime Minister of Canada.

USAID Public Diplomacy Grants (Sri Lanka and Maldives)

The U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka and Maldives welcomes grant applications for programs that address key development issues in Sri Lanka and Maldives to strengthen democratic institutions, promote ethnic/religious reconciliation and gender equality, provide sustainable economic growth through entrepreneurship and job skills training, foster media freedoms and promote transparency, strengthen environmental protection, and/or address transnational problems.

Deadline: 30 September 2016

Grant proposals will be accepted in three primary categories based on funding levels. Successful proposals will impact one of the issues highlighted above. In evaluating proposals, emphasis will be placed on the size of the budget, experience of the grantee on implementing programs, and diversity of audiences affected by the program.

Categories of awards:
Category 1: $1000 – $9990: To conduct a series of classes or workshops on one of the key development issues above. Recommended for organizations with experience working in the subject matter but little or no past partnerships with the U.S. Embassy.  Proposals can also include cultural or thematic events or informational products, such as a concert or printed/virtual/online guidebooks. Individual trainers seeking to hold regularly weekly classes or form activity clubs should apply under this category.

Category 2: $10000 – $24900: To conduct extended training for a diverse audience and/or produce material to raise awareness of one of the key development issues above.  Recommended for organizations with substantial experience working in the subject matter and with past successful projects with the U.S. Embassy.  Programs can include broad campaigns to support these development goals, workshops bringing international expertise, and other relevant projects.

Category 3: $25000 – 40,000: To conduct extended training for a diverse audience and/ or produce material to raise awareness of one of the key development issues above.  Recommended for organizations with extensive experience working in the subject matter and past successful projects with the U.S. Embassy and other international donors.  NOTE: This category is highly competitive.

DNA and Cultural Diversity

In an unusual effort to encourage intercultural dialogue, Momondo, the online flight search company, is giving away 500 DNA kits to discover participants’ genetic background and the places their ancestors came from, and then 17 trips, traveling to those countries.

Here’s what they say:

Let’s Open Our World
“We only have one world, but it’s divided. We tend to think that there are more things dividing us than uniting us. momondo was founded on the belief that everybody should be able to travel the world, to meet other people, and experience other cultures and religions. Travel opens our minds: when we experience something different, we begin to see things differently. To celebrate the colourful diversity of the world, we invite you to join The DNA Journey. We hope it will inspire you to explore your own diversity and discover how you are connected to the rest of the world.”

Win Your DNA Journey
“1. WIN A DNA KIT AND FIND OUT HOW DIVERSE YOU ARE
All you have to do is tell us why you should win a DNA kit (a simple saliva test), by August 16th 2016. If you win a DNA kit, you can take the next step towards winning the journey of your life.

2. WIN A JOURNEY OF YOUR LIFE
When you get your DNA results, shoot a short video of how you react to seeing where you’re from for the very first time – who knows what emotions you’ll capture! Your video is your ticket to winning a journey of your life: a trip to every country you’re from, or a trip to your favourite country found in your DNA.”

The project has been jointly developed with Ancestry, the genealogy company.

Venice Academy of Human Rights 2016

The Venice Academy of Human Rights will take place from 4-13 July 2016 on the topic “Backlash against Human Rights?”. The faculty includes a distinguished opening lecture by Judge András Sajó (Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights), a general course by Robert McCorquodale (BIICL) as well as lectures and discussion sessions with Joseph A. Cannataci (UN Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy), Helen Fenkwick (Durham University), Mark Goodale (University of Lausanne) and Geir Ulfstein (University of Oslo).

The Venice Academy of Human Rights 2016, in co-operation with PluriCourts – Centre of Excellence for the Study of the Legitimate Roles of the Judiciary in the Global Order, discusses the expansion and restriction of human rights regimes, questions of inequality and social change, counter-terrorist laws, same sex unions, privacy and data protection issues as well as the reform of the European Court of Human Rights and UN human rights treaty bodies. The course aims at academics, practitioners, PhD/JSD and master students.
Applications are accepted until 29 May 2016 with an early-bird discount until 24 April 2016.

You can view the detailed programme here.

Intercultural Innovation Award finalists

The BMW Group and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) announce finalists for the Intercultural Innovation Award

Ten initiatives have been named finalists by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the BMW Group for the Intercultural Innovation Award. The selection process was highly competitive, with close to 1000 applications received from 120 countries.

The projects selected come from all over the world, representing countries across five continents and underlining the importance of the Intercultural Innovation Award and its commitment to the worldwide promotion of intercultural diversity and understanding.

By supporting sustainable and innovative, intercultural grassroots initiatives with the potential for expansion and replication, the Intercultural Innovation Award aims to contribute to peace and to building more inclusive societies. Launched in 2011, the Intercultural Innovation Award is the result of a unique public-private partnership between the UNAOC and the BMW Group.

During one year, the selected initiatives can enjoy invaluable expert know-how and resources from the BMW Group and UNAOC. In addition to receiving monetary support, the finalists will have the opportunity to participate in training activities and workshops covering diverse subjects such as strategy and planning, implementation analysis and media training, as well as to become a part of an “Intercultural Leaders” network.

The final rankings will be announced during the 7th Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, April 25-27, 2016. The official award ceremony will take place on 26 April.

This year’s selected organizations and their social impact focus (in alphabetical order) are:

The Blessing Basket Project – Artisan & You (USA)
Patent pending technology that enables impoverished artisans to exchange letters with their customers around the world, creating powerful intercultural connections.

The Coexist Initiative – Girls Education Equity Project (Kenya)
Promotion of girls’ primary school enrollment and retention in Daadab and Kakuma refugee camps by engaging men, boys and communities to address the complex socio-cultural barriers that continue to impede girls’ education.

Give Something Back to Berlin e.V. – Give Something Back to Berlin (Germany)
Urban integration platform that strengthens cohesion by connecting new Berliners with social engagement and community service.

International Council for Cultural Centers – Bread Houses Network (Bulgaria)
Collective bread-making that unites people around the world to cooperate across cultures, ages, and special needs thereby building stronger communities.

On Our Radar – From the Margins to the Front Page (UK)
Use of SMS by marginalized young Sierra Leoneans to share their stories via international media outlets, boosting empathy, dialogue, understanding and support.

Red Dot Foundation – Safecity (India)
Platform that crowdsources personal stories of sexual harassment and maps these trends at a local level, in order to make public spaces safer for all.

Routes 2 Roots – Exchange for Change (India)
Program for open dialogue to build trust and cultural similarities between India and Pakistan, with the aim of sustaining peace and resolving conflict.

Shine a Light – CanalCanoa (Brazil/USA)
Children from remote Amazonian villages make movies, cartoons, and music to teach other Brazilian children about their lives.

SINGA – SINGA Kiwanda (France)
Community of engaged people who support refugees to begin their own business or social project, through providing local knowledge, networks and resources.

Unistream – Educating Tomorrow’s Leaders Today (Israel)
Three year program that encourages and promotes intercultural dialogue and understanding by utilizing educational and entrepreneurial platforms.