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In numerous traditions of indigenous thought, the sharing of food is treated as ceremony.

Each ritual reflects the understanding that giving and receiving is a sacred transaction. You give and receive in appreciation of your interdependence with others—not only with your family and community but also with the farmer, the food provider and the vast non-human family that populates Earth.

Every bird, every bug, every microscopic microbe—every living organism interconnects in the great web of life.

As school students we learn that all life is made of the same basic elements—earth, water, air—yet as adults we tend to forget it. But the facts are the facts: We drink water that circulates throughout the whole biosphere. The oxygen exhaled by the rainforest becomes our own breath. The food produced by the seed and the soil builds up our bodies and keeps them alive. We are one with the earth.

If it sounds like spirituality, it is. But it is also science and—more than ever now—politics.

Before The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, we made a series of short documentaries based on symposia that brought together scientists, environmentalists, religious leaders and policymakers to share research on the world’s besieged water bodies. It was during this period that we met Dr. Shiva and decided to document her remarkable life. 

Here, on the occasion of her Sydney Peace Prize Award in 2010, this scientist (M.Sc. in Nuclear Physics, Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Quantum Theory) talks about Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, a concept in Hinduism that describes the world as a single earth family.

It is this “big picture” perspective that makes The Seeds of Vandana Shiva project more than just a documentary film. Along with numerous partners, our goal is to share it with organizations around the world for education and outreach—including to public officials who can influence policy towards a more ecologically sensitive world.

Did we tell you that Patagonia gave us a grant to support distribution? Thank you, Patagonia, along with your in-kind sponsorship through Patagonia Action Works, which will help us to launch!

Namaste!

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Maureen Tunney is an independent film producer whose projects have ranged from commercials and public service announcements to such innovative app content as the “Be My Eyes” campaign, which creates instant communication between blind and sighted partners. She developed her professional skills in an atmosphere of service, beginning with her long association with the Luethi-Peterson International Camps organization, which each summer brings together children from numerous world cultures in several European and North American locations. She has also been a mentor to numerous young people seeking film and media careers, including her own sons. Her involvement with “The Seeds of Vandana Shiva” is a continuation of her strong interest in advocacy for under-represented communities around the world.

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A child of the Occupy Wall Street movement, Jeff’s journey to land interviews with Noam Chomsky and Glenn Greenwald sparked his passion for archival research. He has since worked with Academy-Award-nominated filmmakers on documentaries illustrating the stories of activists and athletes from the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and across the Americas. He has provided research for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and The New York Times, and his work has aired on PBS. Jeffrey lives to find the unfindable. Most recently, his deep-dive research on 60 Minutes journalist Mike Wallace provided footage for a film now in competition at Sundance. As a producer, Jeff has worked on films about whistleblowers and drone strike survivors and has consulted for the Chumash indigenous people.

The Film Makers Uncategorized

Precious and Kale
Meet Precious Phiri who spends her days teaching farmers in Zimbabwe how to mitigate climate change.
 
Specifically, she instructs them in holistic land management, a method that rejuvenates depleted water and degraded soil while drawing climate-changing C02 out of the atmosphere.
 
Originally trained by the Savory Institute, the enthusiastic Ms. Phiri explains that a cornerstone of holistic management is that eco-systems without animals create ecological imbalance. Grasslands, for example, deteriorate when the food chain that keeps them alive is disturbed. Deprived of a symbiotic relationship with ruminants, grass dies and then soil dies. And, in the process, climate-disrupting carbon discharges into the atmosphere.
 
It’s simple but not obvious: Ecosystems need both fauna and flora to thrive. Think of the oceans without whales or Yellowstone National Park without wolves. It’s the great web of life.
 
The phenomenon, sometimes described as a “trophic cascade,” is a biological process that flows between every part of the food chain.
 
Here Precious explains it: 
Precious Phiri Play Button
Here’s another obvious but often-overlooked fact: Healthy humans come from healthy food that originates in healthy soil. And there is no way to support this synergy between our health and the biosphere in an industrial food system: Big Ag and Big Food disrupts precious water cycles, destroys biodiversity, pummels the biosphere with toxic pesticides, and imprisons innocent animals that should be on the land. This isn’t mere sentiment; it’s actually climate science.
 
In a regenerative world, it’s OK to eat meat, but if you’re going to do so, it’s imperative to transition to organic, grass-fed and free-range–and not in the quantities Big Ag and Big Food would have you do. Any other way and we are contributing to global warming, impacting our health and, by the way, engaging significantly in animal cruelty. Of course it’s more than OK to be vegan or vegetarian but, ecologically speaking, there is also an argument for conscious meat eating.
 
Vandana Shiva is vegetarian and also a founding member of Regeneration International, an organization that promotes and researches this stuff. Here’s a clip of her talking about the animals at her Navdanya farm.
Cover for Vimeo 11.15.16
And here are some books to read if you’d like to know more:
 
 
It’s a whole new world of hope for the environment, the climate and our own health. Perhaps the most hopeful story ever that too few people have heard.
 
P.S: About progress on our film about Dr. Shiva’s life story: We’ve just completed laying in additional dialogue, now we’re working on music and B-Roll. Onwards we go!
 
Please contribute to this next phase of our film about Dr. Shiva’s life story here: Every bit helps to get the film completed (and into your hands) sooner rather than later!

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Sheela with Seeds Navdanya

Would you believe it: It’s been four years since we finished our film Sons of Africa and had the idea to tell the life story of Dr. Vandana Shiva.

Yes, filmmaking takes time! And The Seeds of Vandana Shiva is taking great shape.

Here’s why you haven’t heard from us lately: We are deeply immersed in sourcing archival footage and photographs, listening to music to inspire a score, fact checking, cleaning up dialogue—all consuming and important work that is hard to report about when you’re busy doing it. We remain grateful to everyone who has supported this leg of the journey.

But today we’re abandoning all that and hitting the road! First stop, Santa Rosa, California. Vandana is speaking at the inspiring and colorful Heirloom Seed Expo, and if you’re in the area, we encourage you to attend. She’s appearing on a panel with Robert Kennedy Jr., on the issue of glyphosate (the main ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp) that has been named as a probable carcinogen by the W.H.O. Next she’s addressing the tension between our seed supply and corporate interests, as well as the Care What You Wear campaign about how our clothing purchases can impact an ecologically toxic and unjust garment industry.

On the evening of September 6 Vandana will open the Soil Not Oil conference, a powerful three-day event featuring artists, activists and academics sharing new information on regenerative agriculture and the social-ecological health of the earth. The conference was inspired by her book, Soil Not Oil, a must-read in this era of obvious (and heart-rending) climate disasters.

At the end of the month we’re attending the Regeneration International General Assembly at Rancho Via Organica in Mexico. We look forward to filming and connecting with partners and allies to discuss plans for the film’s distribution.

And in case we again get caught up in editing and neglect to write to you before November, we must alert you to the Pathway To Paris Concert (Carnegie Hall, New York, November 5) featuring a line up of amazing musicians—Patti Smith, Michael Stipe, Flea, Talib Kweli, Tanya Tagaq, Tenzin Choegyal—plus words of wisdom by Bill McKibbon (350.org) and Vandana Shiva! More than ever now, it’s all about climate change. Food systems play a huge part, not only causing up to 50% of the problem, but also offering solutions to solve it. OK, we admit it. For this one we can’t wait.

In between all of that, we will keep at it, looking forward to when we can show you the film!

BTW:  Our cover picture, taken by Pramod Kamothi at Dr. Shiva’s Navdanya farm features seed keeper and farmer Sheela Godial with an abundant harvest of fox tail millet, a nutritious but forgotten heritage crop being restored at the farm.

Featured News News Uncategorized

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The Water Protectors at Standing Rock are very much on our minds.

Of course we’re celebrating the news that the Army Corps of Engineers has denied Energy Transfer Partners permits to continue construction through Lake Oahe, but we are still donating supplies and sending prayers of support.

Why? Hundreds of waterways are still under threat, the pipeline investors have issued a statement that they’ll proceed anyway, and the incoming US President—a financial stakeholder—has made it quite clear where he stands on the issue. It’s not over yet.

We can’t help but draw parallels with the stand-off in North Dakota and an historic event in The Seeds of Vandana Shiva. We want to share that story with you because despite seemingly insurmountable odds, in time the peaceful protestors prevailed.

We’re talking about Chipko—the historic Tree-Hugging movement—that began in the Himalayan forests where Vandana grew up. In 1973, a small group of indigenous tribal women rose up in non-violent resistance to the reckless deforestation of their ancestral homes. Rampant commercial logging was destroying their lives, including the soil and water on which they depended.

Just as the First Americans at Standing Rock today stand between their precious water and DAPL construction crews, the women of Chipko stood between their precious trees and the logging machines. A young Vandana Shiva played a key role, communicating in English what was happening to the outside world.

Here’s a short clip from a rough-cut of the film to give you an impression:

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Think about it: Without the Internet, cell phones, video cameras or social media, a motley resistance started by a small group of women grew into an international movement that became a precedent for non-violent protest across the globe.

In the end Prime Minister Indira Gandhi issued a state order that banned logging in the Himalayas. Better yet, this was followed by programs to restore ecological health to the forests and waterways.

The Tree Huggers prevailed. The Water Protectors can too.

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vandana-ronnie-andre
 
 Last year in India we filmed several intense planning sessions between Vandana Shiva and key members of the food justice movement about their vision for an International Tribunal against Monsanto.
 
Exactly a year later, on October 15 and 16 (World Food Day) those plans came to fruition. More than a thousand witnesses, journalists and activists participated in a historically significant People’s Tribunal that charged Monsanto and agri-business with crimes against people and the environment.
 
Expert witnesses came from across the planet, from five continents and from both industrialized and developing nations. We were there too.
Of course there was plenty of disturbing and heartbreaking evidence of Monsanto’s transgressions; pollution, deforestation, biopiracy, land grabbing, harassment of independent scientists and nefarious political lobbying to name a few. There was also clear testimony about the impacts of agricultural poisons on creatures and people.
 
The chair of the trial was Judge Françoise Tulkens, former Vice President of the European Court of Human Rights. Click through for a short video of her perspective in the closing comments:
 
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Fortunately, the litany of Monsanto’s offenses was offset by the lively People’s Assembly that took place in tandem with the Tribunal. At this event, 500 stakeholders, representing more than 1,000 signatory organizations, crafted an empowering message of hope.
 
Together they pledged to collaborate on growing democratic, healthy, and ecological food chains to mitigate environmental destruction, hunger and climate change. 5-10 percent of all agricultural producers are already practicing regenerative techniques, and there are millions of conscious consumers choosing organic, humane and fair traded products instead of the junk that Big Food produces.
 
The Monsanto Tribunal marked a fitting end of two years of filming for The Seeds of Vandana Shiva.
 
We’ve followed Vandana to many places in the world and we have talked at length to her, and others, about her life. It has been a mind-blowing and supremely educational ride and we look forward to sharing the completed film with you.
 
Our editors have just finished a first cut; now we are knuckling down to the next round of editing and post production. We’ll let you know how we progress; in the meantime, look out for an email coming November 7. We have a very important question to ask you!

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Soil Not Oil banner
“Regenerative agriculture provides answers to the soil crisis, the food crisis, the climate crisis and the crisis of democracy.” Vandana Shiva
 
Join us on Thursday July 21st when local groups will come together in Ojai to support both the Soil Not Oil International Campaign and the upcoming second annual Soil Not Oil Conference with an evening gathering of film and discussion. Camilla will be there sharing new excerpts from The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, and there will be other short films on soils and carbon farming.
 
An Evening Gathering to Support
The 2nd Annual Soil Not Oil Conference
Thursday July 21, 7.30PM
At The Farmer and The Cook, 339 W. El Roblar, Ojai, CA 93023
THIS IS A FREE EVENT
 
Our advisory board member Steve Sprinkel will be there, so will Margie Bushman & Wes Roe of Santa Barbara Permaculture Network, David White from Center for Regenerative Agriculture and Conor Love Jones of East End Eden Farm
 
Why are we supporting Soil Not Oil?
 
In 2015 the first Soil Not Oil Conference was held in Northern California in solidarity with the Soil Not Oil and Terra Viva Campaigns launched by Dr. Shiva, who was one of the first to make the connection between climate change and the disastrous soil practices of industrial agriculture.
 
Because our lives are entirely dependent on the health of our soils, Soil Not Oil and Terra Viva advocate for the care and regeneration of soils worldwide. These campaigns and the Soil Not Oil Coalition call for the extensive restructuring of land management practices, especially in agriculture.
 
Permaculture, agroecology and all regenerative agriculture practices are key to combating climate change, restoring water cycles, stopping ocean acidification, re-establishing biodiversity, improving food production, and revitalizing local economies across the planet.
 
What’s not to like?
 
As we face the possibility of only four more years of water in our valley, we know that rapidly accelerating human-caused climate change is an imminent global threat, including to us in Ojai. One clear thing to do is reverse our engagement in the fossil fuel food system, which not only pollutes ecosystems but is a huge driver of climate change. 
 
The Soil Not Oil Coalition’s call for integrated action to restore global soil quality is one of the key things we must do to ensure a safe and healthy world for generations to come. Here’s a little known fact: Just the first meter of soil contains as much carbon as the entire atmosphere, and there’s potential to soak up much more.
 
For more information on this event, please contact Margie.
 
See you at F&C,
 
Camilla Becket
Jim Becket
Jim Whitney

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 Vandana Rust Sari 5
 
Vandana Shiva will be in Ojai next week to headline our annual Earth Day at Oak Grove School!
 
If you are in the area, we can’t encourage you enough to attend this event.
 
Oak Grove is situated on a breathtakingly beautiful campus. What better way to spend a gorgeous Spring day but in Ojai, surrounded by wildflowers, ancient oaks, birds, bees and butterflies and a friendly crowd of change-makers doing their part to rejuvenate Mother Earth?
 
Many local organizations will have displays of their work; there’ll be activities for kids, a whole lot of music and fresh, local food.
 
Earth Day starts at 11.00am.
Dr. Shiva will speak at 2.30pm. Book Signing afterwards.
VANDANA SHIVA IN OJAI
 
Want to avoid parking snarl? The Ojai Trolley will be running for free that day so why not park your car near a trolley stop and be delivered to Earth Day in style? Better yet, ride your bike to campus. Oak Grove’s bike valet will take care of it for you and give you a free raffle ticket for a $3,000 value draw!
 
Vandana will also be at Pacifica Graduate Institute’s conference Climate of Change and the Therapy of Ideas while in the area (April 24) and at Soka University for Critical Conversations: The Future of the Planet on April 26.
 
We’ll be filming and taking notes at these events and will send you a brand new update about The Seeds of Vandana Shiva in a few weeks. Watch this space!

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We arrived to a Paris locked down and traumatized by the November 13 terror attacks. Tear gas still in the air from an illegal climate march. Draconian emergency measures banning any gathering of more than two persons with a “political message.”
 
And yet, ten days later at the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, we filmed tens of thousands who took to the streets in joyful demonstration for a commitment to climate action. The energy was electric. The police stood aside. Despite the State of Emergency, activists in Paris found a way to be heard. 
  
On that same day, December 12, 196 countries agreed to take steps to arrest the build up of greenhouse gasses disrupting the climate and causing extraordinary natural disasters.
 
Post-analysis puts the voluntary agreement somewhere between “a turning point in human history” and “too little too late.” At best there is greater hope that governments will stand up to polluting corporations and legislate measures to combat climate chaos.
 

Of course Vandana Shiva was front and center of the activities–giving speeches, meeting with government ministers, speaking at press conferences, fielding numerous interviews and even helping to plant an organic “garden of hope” in the city.

 
Here she is arriving at The Rights of Nature Tribunal, one of numerous powerful and packed-to-capacity gatherings she addressed on her back-to-back schedule in Paris.
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The doormat says The Solution is Under our Feet–a great piece of guerrilla art designed by Kiss The Ground, part of our Regeneration International crew, who also arranged to have the words The Soil Story beamed from the Eiffel Tower.

For the first time, at COP21, soil and agriculture was on everyone’s lips and food systems were acknowledged to be factors in climate change.
But just like Big Tobacco and Oil, Big Ag and Big Food are denying the extent of their culpability while proposing false solutions offering more of the same: seed patenting, loss of biodiversity, genetic engineering, toxic chemical inputs, expensive technologies, displacement of farmers and corporate control of our food supply.

Thankfully, in Paris Vandana and the team from Regeneration International clearly articulated their message of hope. Without resource heavy technologies, organic and fair traded food systems can sequester carbon out of the atmosphere and return it to the soil where it belongs.

Our video about her Navdanya farm and university, Welcome to Bija Vidyapeeth was screened at the  It’s Possible Forum at La Villette where she appeared with Rob Hopkins of the Transition Network and Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. This event centered on the change-making possibility of people power, an idea both celebrated and executed in Paris.

 
As Vandana made clear at the Forum, we can transition away from degenerative and predatory economies. It is not only imperative but also possible for we in the West do well with less.
 
In fact, regenerative gatherings against degenerative systems were numerous and happening all over Paris.

One particularly important event was the press conference held on December 3rd announcing an International Monsanto Tribunal scheduled for October 2016 in The Hague. Another was the Pathways to Paris Concert with Patti Smith, Flea, Thom Yorke, Tenzin Choegyal, Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibbon and Naomi Klein.

Now we are home and back to editing.

With all the filming done for this project, our equipment has taken a beating. Two of our cameras failed on this trip. First thing in the new year we hope to repair them while also preparing for post production. That means fundraising. However, by making a tax-deductible donation to this project right now, you could put your 2015 tax dollars to use. Thank you in advance for your support!

All the rewards still apply, including a free and early link to the film.
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