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Notes from the 2020 Biodynamic Online Conference

A first time conference attendee

I've been a member of the Biodynamic Association of North America for a few years - it started with a webinar I really wanted to attend, and the membership tiers had been freshly established so that for just US$10 I could access a huge amount of content. 

The conference fee was a little more of a stretch... and I did have to ponder it for a few days. In the end I decided I just really needed to spend time with the people I admire most - and I have no regrets. 

The notes that follow are not complete, and I hope the presenters aren't offended if they happen to see that my takeaways were only a tiny fraction of what they said. These notes are mostly for my own reference, and to guide others towards people contributing to the biodynamic work around the world. 

Day One: Laura Riccardi Lyvers

Soon into her talk, Laura described how a wise person had told her recently that 'the healer must live outside of the village.'

She was speaking to us all - 280 people, that our attraction to biodynamics was often a choice that goes against the grain of social norms, and creates a disconnection to the dominant culture. And that as healers, some of our most important work is to hold the vision of the potential for the future, and step into co-creation with the spiritual world. 

She spoke about an experience with an animal who had been raised on her farm and was going to become food for the family in the coming days. Laura was particularly fond of this cow, and was searching for a way to honour the animal's life. The answer that came to her was that the best way we can honour the animals we eat, is to live our lives honourably, and to constantly ask the question -  

'How do we do this better?'

Her presentation reminded me of the importance of meditation work, and how the exercises in Steiner's book 'Knowledge of Higher Worlds' are essential in all anthroposophical work. I've never noticed how the naming of the compost preparations are related to the preparation for meditative work described by Rudolf Steiner. It seems that the very work of making the compost preparations is itself a meditative path. 

Walter Goldstein (Mandaamin Institute)

This was a true wake-up call.... Walter's work is in seeds, and I loved hearing someone so knowledgable describe the modern commercial models in comparison with how biodynamic growers try to work. 

https://www.mandaamin.org/

Things I want to now go and research for myself are: doubled haploid breeding, and CRISPR-CAS genetic modification.

Walter described an inspirational ideal of how humans and plants have been in partnership for thousands of years, and how seeds have always been bred with humans making decisions about what to keep, which is performing best, which tastes best. If we hand all this over to machines, then we are disconnecting ourselves from a sacred bond. 

It's interesting also, how within science plants are reduced to genes and 'materials' - the language we use lowers their status more and more.

In contrast, by looking to traditional practices of indigenous cultures, we can learn how to honour the integrity of the plant. Walter also talked about 'climate smart' plants, and how they perform very well in years where the climate poses challenges.

I'm now inspired to take my seed sowing a little more seriously, and to also learn more about the traditional Maori methods for saving seeds.

Workshops with Aaron Perry

Aaron Perry led three days of Scaling Stewardship, and if you'd like to learn more about his work, go to https://yonearth.org/ or listen to his podcast at: https://yonearth.org/community...

He began with a poem attributed to a Hopi elder. (You can read the poem in full by clicking on the link)

Further resources I want to explore from his talks are:

Day Three: Binita Shah (SARG), India

Dung Ho! Leading communities towards climate change.

SARG: http://sargindia.org/

I loved how Binita described the compost making sessions as 'demonstrations', and the piles themselves as silent revolutionaries. 

to be continued



 

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