Please join the Santa Barbara City College Center for Sustainability on Sunday, July 1, as we host Julious Piti, founding member of the Chikukwa Ecological Land Use Community Trust (CELUCT) in Zimbabwe, whose ecological design work in Tanzania has recently been featured in the award winning film From the Mara Soil.
In the communal lands of Chimanimani on the borders of Zimbabwe and Mozambique—in the midst of civil wars, deforestation, drought, and severe land degradation—a wonderful story has been unfolding for the last twenty years, an example to the world.
Where once the people of the Chikukwa villages in this region suffered hunger, malnutrition and high rates of disease, communities have transformed themselves with permaculture land strategies and farming techniques, and along the way have become masters of conflict resolution.
Julious Piti experienced the violence of war first hand as a teenager fleeing Mozambique to Zimbabwe during times of conflict. These experiences led him with other Chikukwa community members to a lifetime of work committed to healing both the land and the people.
Many projects flourished through the years at Chikukwa, but the success of these projects also led to difficulties. Conflict and suspicion arose around many issues within the community, but when examined carefully, it was found most were based on communication breakdowns. From these difficulties, the creation of an extraordinary handbook called The Three Circles of Knowledge; How to Build Constructive Community Relations by Understanding Conflicts in Rural African Communities occurred. The approach of the book is based on the three circles method, which aims to work with the areas where indigenous, spiritual and analytical knowledge overlap. This method was developed by a core Chikukwa community group and utilized deep indigenous understanding.
There is much for the world to learn from Chikukwa and CELUCT, for not only have they managed to stay food secure and peaceful during the conflict ridden years of Zimbabwe, but they have done this with solutions that came from within the community, not imposed from the outside, and with very little help or funding from international aid agencies or NGOs.
Some 20 years ago, most were trying to survive on cash crops that caused deforestation and erosion, now over 80% of the population of the Chikukwa villages practice permaculture, growing food for themselves with a surplus to share, on lush and abundant mountainsides where springs honored by indigenous beliefs, have once again sprung to life.
Julious Piti is a permaculture teacher, designer and trainer, and conflict facilitator. He is a founding member of the Chikukwa Ecological Land Trust (CELUCT) and the Director of PORET, an organization formed to support farmers in the low rainfall area of Chaseyama, Zimbabwe where he now lives, by replicating the strategies of CELUCT. In 2009 Julious was hired by Global Resource Alliance, an NGO based in Ojai CA, to facilitate a permaculture design project for a village of 5000 on the shores of Lake Victoria, Tanzania, featured in the film, From the Mara Soil. Film producer Gillian Leahy and Terry Leahy, author of Permaculture Strategy for the South African Villages (University of Newcastle, Australia), are currently making a documentary film about Chikukwa. A presenter at the International Permaculture Convergences in Brazil, Africa, and Jordan, Julious Piti has been invited to teach at the upcoming Permaculture Design Course for International Development & Social Entrepreneurship at Quail Springs Learning Oasis and Permaculture Farm in California, July 2012.
The SBCC Center for Sustainability & Santa Barbara Permaculture Network
Co-sponsors: Global Resource Alliance, Quail Springs Permaculture Learning Oasis, & Antioch University
GRA’s film, From the Mara Soil, was one of five films selected by a partnership between the Sundance Institute and Hilton Worldwide to receive the 2012 Hilton Worldwide LightStay Sustainability Fund & Award.
PORET -Participatory Organic Research Extension and Training
PORET Trust works with the community to address hunger, malnutrition, and poverty.
Chikukwa-A Lesson in Self-Reliance (CELUCT)