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Module 2: Grassroots Sustainability

About the Video | Key Concepts | Before Watching | After Watching | Resources and Interesting Intersections

About the Video

Madhu Suri Prakash, Professor of Education, discusses the Green Revolution, as undertaken in Cuba, which addresses the energy, food and global warming "triple" crises. Madhu argues that if we want to learn how to establish a sustainable footprint, we can't turn to the United States and other developed countries. We should, rather, learn from the experiences of developing countries like Cuba, Costa Rica and Bhutan, all highly ranked on the Happy Planet Index.

Video: AcademIK Connections Module 2: Grassroots Sustainability

Printer-friendly version of Module 2: Grassroots Sustainability [Word]


Key Concepts

Grassroots Sustainability: sustainable initiatives at the community level, for example those that reduce water waste and energy consumption.

Locavore: someone who exclusively eats foods produced in their local or regional foodshed. The food is not transported long distances. Eating locally is sustainable for a community and everyone wins because the farmers produce what is needed and the community purchases food from local markets; thus, supporting the local economy.

Global Warming: an increase in the average temperature of earth’s near-surface air and oceans. This phenomena occurs when greenhouse gases trap heat and light from the sun in the earth’s atmosphere, increasing the temperature. In industrialized areas, a vast amount of greenhouse gas emissions rise into the atmosphere and make it thicker. If we locally produce the things we consume, it will decrease the amount of greenhouse gas emissions because the products will not be traveling long distances.

Foodshed: is the area between where a food is produced and where it is consumed: the land it grows on, the routes it travels, the markets it goes through, and the families who purchase and eat it. A foodshed works well when food is consumed close to where it is grown or raised.

Cuba’s Green Revolution: Cuba stopped receiving Soviet aid when the Cold War ended. This aid had subsidized agricultural production in Cuba. Havana, Cuba recovered its indigenous knowledge and used it to become self-reliant in food production.

Self-Reliance: is an idealistic situation in which a country relies solely on domestically produced food to feed its population. Cuba’s goal was to become self-reliant in food production.

Desecration of Indigenous Knowledge: when six centuries of indigenous agricultural knowledge was regarded as irrelevant and primitive. People employing traditional knowledge were considered backward. Indigenous knowledge is important because if we know what has worked in the past, we can continue to use or improve upon those practices as conditions change.


Before Watching

  1. Where does your community’s food come from? Where is it produced and where do you get it? Does your family have a garden where you grow your own food? Describe your foodshed.
  2. To what extent are you and your family sustainable? Give examples of ways in which your family uses local resources. Do you purchase food from local farmers’ markets or belong to a CSA (a local farm where CSA members pay an annual fee and receive a share of the farm’s production)?


After Watching

  1. Discussion Topics Related to this video
    • How do you think the desecration of indigenous knowledge affects the current acceptance and use of this knowledge?
    • What is the triple crisis and how can indigenous knowledge help to address this crisis? Which three countries are highlighted as examples of sustainability and why?
    • How do the community solutions adopted by Cuba illustrate the power of indigenous knowledge?
  2. Related Indigenous Knowledge Topics for Further Exploration
    • When you go into the food market, have you ever noticed how many products on the shelves have been imported from other countries? Next time you shop, consider how sustainable your local market is.
    • What foods you eat do you consider to be “nutritious” and why? What types of foods give you energy (calories)? Do you eat certain foods based on information that has been passed down to you about those foods?
    • How does the Nutri-Business video relate to this video?


Resources and Interesting Intersections