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Podcast 018 - Review of Dirt the movie and desert polyculture

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Credit: Lorenzo Costa

In this podcast, Paul and Jocelyn sum up what they liked and disliked of the
movie, Dirt. First they consider why speak of dirt and not soil. In permaculture, we love soil. Of course the movie is inspired by William Bryant Logan’s acclaimed book Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth.

The movie is full big names Vandana Shiva, Paul Stamets, Sebastiao Salgado, Wangari Maathai, Pierre Rabhi, just to name some. But one could question why not interview people that have a more dirty knowledge of soil.

The message of the movie is direct: we’re ruining the planet, we’re growing desert’s instead of life! What makes it less significant is that in a permaculture view they actually don’t show the real response to all this: working with perennials and polycultures, working with permaculture.

The movie is made for a large audience, the information on what’s wrong is well presented, it gives us a clear view that probably isn’t so new for many of us on permies, but a lot of people in the large audience don’t know all that is going on, so they have to learn the importance of dirt first.

Paul and Jocelyn talk about how we as permies know that so much more can be done to turn it around, to reverse things, and that is where the movie really stays on the surface of what can be done. What gets shown instead is how we can substitute pesticide monocultures with organic monocultures, and yes it’s a little bit better but if you take time to try to show what’s wrong with our system and how one should fix it, why not show how important it is to work with polycultures and show that you can reverse things by working with trees and water harvesting systems.

They mention how it's almost as if the director didn’t put the footage that he had collected for the movie together in the correct way. An example is when interviewing Salgado they speak of the importance of tree’s for dirt’s health and then they show farm that don’t have any trees in the fields but just long rows of tilled organic monocultures.

The desertification of land is an important issue that flows throughout the movie. Desertification is the obvious outcome of the loss of fertility in soil and the examples brought of India and Africa imply that desertification generates violence, wars and social alienation.

The movie show’s how important it is in urban sites to have a great more greens, trees, and green roof,
and how it is significant to transform urban landscapes from concrete based to dirt based. There’s the example of a school playground and that’s great.

The aspect Paul liked the most of the movie is the animation, the little microbes are nice, one even wears overalls!Jocelyn states that the best moment of the movie is when Wangari Maathai tells the fable of the humming bird, that probably is what you’ll take with you after watching the film.

Relevant Links

Paul's Wofati Article
Paul's Energy Saving Article

Relevant Threads

Greening the Desert Thread at Permies
Polyculture Thread at Permies
Willie Smits Thread at Permies
Permaculture in Extreme Desert Thread at Permies
Paul Stamets Thread at Permies

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