Reviews

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Dr. Roberto Flores: Using “… and the echo follows” as a classroom text

“… and the echo follows” is an excellent learning tool that can be utilized both in college and even at advanced high school levels.

One of the amazing qualities of  “… and the echo follows” is that Nic is able to treat complex social, political and economic problems and solutions with relatively simple language. Some of the points dealt with in “… and the echo follows” include: self-determination, autonomy, self-sustainability, surplus capital, neoliberalism, verticality, horizontality.

Part of the complexity of these terms is that they are seldom used or studied in academic settings. The reason that “… and the echo follows” is able to present these terms with amazing clarity is that Nic explains them with and through the people he interviewed who are veterans in these struggles and then engages others in a discussion on the theoretical points.  Through the stories, one gets a graphic, well-rounded explanation and analysis of the problem and thorough descriptions of a plethora of solutions.

If you are looking for a how-to book on community organization or an organizer’s one-size-fits-all manual, this is not it.  As a matter of fact, none of these stories are presented as models but as examples of a kaleidoscope of anti-systemic solutions. This is a read that will inspire you because not only will you realize through the numerous stories that another way and another world is possible, but you will be inspired, hopeful, and confident that you will come up with your own solutions. “… and the echo follows” relates the facts of a series of common problems and then demonstrates how different people have responded differently. Students who are being introduced to theoretical readings love this book because it is simple yet profound.

Dr. Roberto Flores is a professor at California State University, Los Angeles.  Dr. Flores is also a participant at the Eastside Café (an autonomous space founded by El Sereno residents for the purpose of creating and transforming self-reliance by using the arts, education, cultural awareness, and health.

Raúl Zibechi writes: “A marvelous work”

” ‘and the echo follows’ is a marvelous work. It is very well put together with good design and splendid photos. As far as content goes, I was impressed by its extensive depth and breadth – the quantity of countries and experiences discussed. I was also impressed by the dialog between agriculture, land, and the politics of autonomy and horizontality. I found this aspect particularly interesting. Furthermore, it is all done in a very ‘natural’ way. Congratulations!”

Raúl Zibechi is the author of Territories in Resistance, “Dispersing Power,” and many other books. Raúl Zibechi is one of Latin America’s leading political theorists, an international analyst for Brecha (Montevideo, Uruguay), and a columnist for La Jornada in Mexico City.

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Gustavo Esteva writes of “this amazing book”

“For a long time many of us have enjoyed snippets of Nic’s pilgrimage. We have loved his curiosity, his insight and his openness. But now, through this amazing book, he has shared with us his eyes and ears. He has given us a chance to participate in his adventurous journey. He gives us a chance to follow his discovery and simultaneous invention of the many new worlds he has been dreaming about.”

Gustavo Esteva is a founder of La Universidad de la Tierra, based in Oaxaca, Mexico. He is a local/international grassroots activist and a de-professionalized intellectual. He is the author, co-author, or editor of more than 40 books.

Carlos Marentes, Jr. of La Vía Campesina: the idea of democracy as creation through the lens of food

The following is taken from a presentation by Carlos Marentes at the ‘Food, Democracy and Resilience’ book event at New School University, New York on June 27, 2011. He was speaking on behalf of La Vía Campesina.

“I’d like to mention something about the book, something I think that is very interesting, in terms of not only the presentation – within it the words, the information, the history – but the way in which an individual can actually portray the geometry, the movement of human beings: some of us as peasants, small family farmers, farmworkers, women, Indigenous people, youth, urban marginalized communities of color, all of us that do not find a place in the present world.

What we noticed with the presentation of the book is this very interesting structure. And, for those of you who will hopefully have a chance to acquire the book and read it, and share it, you will notice something interesting about the development of the topics. You will notice something very interesting in the development of the words.

To begin with, you will find out that the majority of it consists not of Nic’s words, but of the actual words of the people he has encountered. In addition, the development of the idea of democracy as creation through the lens of food, through the lens of its interaction with societies – and he gives us both the good and the bad – it resembles what many of you probably know geometrically as a spiral, what many of us that come from Indigenous communities relate to as the caracol.

This is a very important symbol, the caracol, in terms of philosophical movement and even its geometry. Its geometry as it is reflected in the universe, in life, and in many different aspects of the process of creation.

The caracol – I think the English word is the conch shell – is a very interesting symbol because it is a symbol that has various meanings. Amongst the indigenous people of what is now known as Mesoamerica, it reflects one very important thing, and that is “the word” –“la palabra”. And this word, at least the way it was portrayed, has two specific meanings. Yes, there is the individual voice of the person speaking, but then there is another level, there is the voice of all those others that have spoken before the individual and which formed that word and that voice that has been spoken. And then there is a third level. The voice that echoed with other voices and amplified it and magnified the power of what it was that they were going to say.

For those of you that get the opportunity to read this book, you will notice that within this book we see an echo of resistance. We see an echo of human beings trying to find other voices, other struggles that are saying today “Wake up!” That have been saying for the longest time “Wake up!” And that hopefully will continue, saying, “We are awakened.”

Principally, as many of you have known, what is at stake is no longer political ideals. One could argue they are no longer ideological visions. What is at stake is life itself. Continuing on this path of industrialized agriculture; continuing on this path of capitalist consumerism; continuing on this path of alienation – on the four different levels of alienation from ourselves, alienation from our labor, alienation from the product of our labor, and alienation from nature – one would say this cannot continue.

This is the echo that we hear bouncing throughout these chambers within the caracol that is this book and which calls us, calls our attention to add our own voice.

And now, I’d like to open it up for further discussion and really appreciate the effort and the result of what no doubt will be a very important book for us in the social struggle.”

George Naylor, farmer, NFFC: “Food Sovereignty can lead to real democracy”

“After reading ‘… and the echo follows’ you will feel grounded in how Food Sovereignty can lead to real democracy and how our lives and those of future generations depend on it. You will also enjoy meeting new friends, including peasants and farmers from many of the world’s regions, with whom you can join in that endeavor.”

George Naylor, independent family farmer in Greene County, Iowa; past president of the National Family Farm Coalition in the United States.

Christina Schiavoni of WhyHunger: “a timely arrival for those who are yearning to tackle food issues in their broader political context"

Christina Schiavoni, past Director of WhyHunger’s Global Movements Program wrote the following review. According to their website, “WHY’s Global Movements Program works through international and U.S. civil society networks. We link WHY’s domestic work on hunger and poverty to broader global movements for food sovereignty and the basic rights to food, land, water, and sustainable livelihoods.”

“From the administration’s recent approval of GM alfalfa to the First Lady’s embrace of Wal-Mart as the latest healthy food hero, the food movement in the US is beginning to get riled up—and for good reason. Just as communities are making some headway on building local food systems, structures from above seem to be working extra hard to dismantle them. Words like “democracy,” “power,” and even “revolution” are showing up more frequently on food and farm listservs, undoubtedly inspired by the popular uprisings sweeping across northern Africa and the Middle East, many of which were sparked by the food price spikes of the globalized food system. This confluence of factors makes And the Echo Follows by Nic Paget-Clarke a timely arrival for those who are yearning to tackle food issues in their broader political context.

And the Echo Follows brings the concept of food sovereignty to life by sharing the stories, insights, and images of the people who are putting it into practice every day. We hear from Maori activists in New Zealand who are resisting further colonization in the form of biopiracy of their native flora and fauna, indigenous knowledge, and even their own DNA. We hear from peasant leaders of Mali who are making up for the failure of the government to regulate agricultural prices by creating their own system of locally controlled reserves. We hear from community leaders of Venezuela and Bolivia, where for the first time, peasants and indigenous peoples are at the helm of a process of social transformation based on participatory democracy. These stories, together with vivid images and historical context, form a fascinating web of interconnections and commonalities that Nic Paget-Clarke has masterfully woven together in this work.”

Agroecologist Miguel Angel Nuñez: “Should be studied by collective grassroots organizations”

“This book should be studied by collective grassroots organizations, as well as by many others! The unique approach developed in this book of binding together many ideas helps us to understand the complexity of the interrelated, newly-emerging issues of our present societies. Among other issues, this includes the alignment of direct, participatory democracies with agroecological food sovereignty. Congratulations!!”

Miguel Angel Nuñez, agroecologist, researcher, teacher, and writer; member and co-founder of IPIAT (Institute for the Production and Investigation of Tropical Agriculture); co-founder and coordinator of the Diplomado de Agroecología at the National Experimental Simón Rodríguez University in Mucuchíes, Venezuela; former adviser to the Office of the Presidency of Venezuela.

Dr. Eleanora Robbins: What a creative way to teach

Teachers from around the world

What a fascinating way to learn and teach. Pick a subject that matters deeply to you and travel the world and ask questions of the experts, record what they say, and then chose to share what you learned. What a creative way to teach us all. I am in awe of Nic Paget-Clarke. The photo essay allows us to see the people who are teaching us. The faces–the faces–they are amazing. I got to see my new teachers in Mozambique, Venezuela, Missouri, South Africa, Mexico, India, Bolivia, Georgia, Nicaragua, Arizona, New Zealand, and Brazil. The people are not my standard teachers–they teach by example and then explain what they have accomplished and what more they are trying to accomplish.

I loved this book because I knew nothing about the subject and it taught me something new. I think of myself as a realist. But I learned that realism is a political construct which you incorporate into your thinking. I got to read a whole lot of stories about people following different constructs.

Darn, the book ended and I wanted to know more. I wanted to know what I could do to join the reality Nic Paget-Clarke discusses–where there are people thinking and caring and working in directions that are good for all of us.

Dr. Eleanora (Norrie) Robbins is “presently an adjunct faculty member at San Diego State University in the Department of Geological Sciences. I’m retired from the U.S. Geological Survey, after 34 years. I was also a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania for two years. I’m a member of Women Occupy San Diego. I’m part of a National Science Foundation (NSF) project called Art of Science Learning. As outreach from my Department, I teach outdoor science to kids on Indian reservations, called Science Explorers Club.”

Dr. Pedro Noguera: "... the first step to taking action in solidarity... "

“Anyone who has spent any time thinking about the causes of poverty in the world understands that the connection between food and democracy is inextricable. Through vivid photographs taken in communities and cultures throughout the world, Nic Paget-Clarke captures this important connection and brings life to the struggle for both. “And the Echo Follows” is both a collection of stories about the struggle for food and human rights, and a poignant reminder that those who put their lives on the line in this struggle have voices, faces and aspirations. They are real people seeking what is vital and fundamental to the pursuit of human dignity. Reading this book may not ease the suffering of the peoples depicted, but it may be the first step to taking action in solidarity with them.”

Pedro A. Noguera, Ph.D., Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Development. Also, Executive Director, Metropolitan Center for Urban Education, New York University

Columnist Paul Rockwell: “the best book on food democracy since ‘Stolen Harvest’ by Vandana Shiva”

And The Echo Follows is a unique and stunning book about democracy as food creation. It concerns agro-economics, cultures based on traditional knowledge, native resources, effective ancient practices for controlling pests, the use of biodiversity.

A sustainable economy is based on local control of food production, on de-commercialized relationships between farms and the earth that sustains life. In a series of interviews, reflections, and engaging photographs, Paget-Clarke introduces us to self-reliant communities, rural farmers from Mozambique, Venezuela, Missouri, from all over the world, agrarian activists that have liberated themselves from globalized corporate markets — markets that commercialize, appropriate and commodify nature and human labor — life itself.

How these burgeoning interconnected communities (many now part of the Via Campesina movement), how they organize themselves, reclaim the commons, is a fascinating story told by the publisher of In Motion Magazine.

The photographs are integral to the narrative. With a keen sense of composition, a clarity of focus, Paget-Clarke’s images bring us closer to the soil; they put us in touch with local farmers, rural women, community associations that produce food in harmony with nature.

For this writer, And The Echo Follows is the best book on food democracy since Stolen Harvest (2000) by Vandana Shiva.”

Paul Rockwell, U.S. national columnist. His essays have appeared in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, Baltimore Sun, Utne Reader, The Nation, CommonDreams, Truthout, and a host of alternative weeklies.

Jill Richardson writes in her blog La Vida Locavore: "This book taught me many new things, really valuable things"

Writing in La Vida Locavore, Jill Richardson wrote a dual book review, pairing together … and the echo follows with Making Poverty by Thomas Lines. In her lengthy review, she writes: “I love the book. I love reading it, although I find myself constantly turning to the footnotes to find his sources, so I can read everything he read, and I’m torn between pursuing each source he cites or finishing the book. This book taught me many new things, really valuable things.”

Tammy L Wilson: Growing the discussion on food …

“I highly recommend this book as a means to further the growing discussion on food. Adding to the conversation of what is food sovereignty? and where did this economic mess come from? Nic Paget-Clarke’s beautiful book in words and pictures asks these questions and many more. Read and then come join the discussion!”

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