Monday, March 16, 2009

The Power of Community

I watched "The Power of Community" on Friday night at a public showing, about how Cuba re-organized its food production and transportation after losing losing half of its oil imports when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990. Dubbed "The Special Time," food supplies dropped by 80 percent. There was no food available.

Without oil, the country coasted to a stop and changed how they grow food. Instead of big state-supported agriculture, they created a network of small organic farms using oxen to pull the plows.

"An ox won't work for eight hours. When it's tired, it just lays down," said an old farmer who taught new farmers how to train oxen to do the plowing. Oxen are better than tractors for the soil because they don't compress the dirt. Oxen also provide natural fertilizer. Today, 80 percent of Cuba's agriculture is still organic.

People started using bikes to get around and ate more vegetables and less meat. The country got healthier. The rate of diabetes, heart disease and stroke went down. The average Cuban lost 20 pounds! People got to know their neighbors and began living more locally, with more connection.

Cuba's "special period" is a look into the future of what will happen in a post-peak oil culture and oil costs $150, $300 or $500 a barrel. People act crazy when they're hungry. Maybe that's what we need to wake up to the coming post-oil era -- a little hunger-induced craziness.

Has anyone seen the movie? NetFlix doesn't have it. This movie's site -- -- lists public showings and distributes the movie.

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