THE POWER OF COMMUNITY: HOW CUBA SURVIVED PEAK OIL
by Megan Quinn
Cubans are also replacing petroleum-fed machinery with oxen, and their urban agriculture reduces food transportation distances. Today an estimated 50 percent of Havana’s vegetables come from inside the city, while in other Cuban towns and cities urban gardens produce from 80 percent to more than 100 percent of what they need.
… The solutions to Cuba’s energy problems were not easy. Without money, it couldn’t invest in nuclear power and new conventional fossil fuel plants or even large-scale wind and solar energy systems. Instead, the country focused on reducing energy consumption and implementing small-scale renewable energy projects.
… With meat scarce and fresh local vegetables in abundance since 1995, Cubans now eat a healthy, low-fat, nearly vegetarian, diet. They also have a healthier outdoor lifestyle and walking and bicycling have become much more common. “Before, Cubans didn’t eat that many vegetables. Rice and beans and pork meat was the basic diet,” Sanchez from the Foundation for Nature and Humanity said. “At some point necessity taught them, and now they demand [vegetables].”
… Throughout its travels, the documentary crew saw and experienced the resourcefulness, determination, and optimism of the Cuban people, often hearing the phrase “Sí, se puede” or “Yes it can be done.”
People spoke of the value of “resistir” or “resistance,” showing their determination to overcome obstacles. And they have lived under a U.S. economic blockade since the early 1960s, viewed as the ultimate test of the Cuban ability to resist.
… With this new reality, the Cuban government changed its 30-year motto from “Socialism or Death” to “A Better World is Possible.” Government officials allowed private entrepreneurial farmers and neighborhood organizations to use public land to grow and sell their produce. They pushed decision-making down to the grassroots level and encouraged initiatives in their neighborhoods. They created more provinces. They encouraged migration back to the farms and rural areas and reorganized their provinces to be in-line with agricultural needs.
read complete article>>Example of urban agriculture
As the only nation in history to successfully de-industrialize to a functional agrarian society, there are innumerable lessons to learn from Cuba.
Who would have thought this obscure, tiny nation would be a model sustainable society living in a post petroleum world. We are not surprised in the least, since the late 90’s, we have been interested in Cuba’s Green Revolution and have read about and studied their sustainable methods.
Recently, we’ve noticed that Cuba is being widely touted by peakers (peak oil activists) as the model for a sustainable community/nation. A quick side note, in 1999, the Path to Freedom website was started to fight for the return Elian Gonzalez to his father. Our site was influential in the return of Elian to his father, collecting approx 25,000 signatures with coverage from all over the world. Jules even had a commentary piece published in the Cuban newspaper, Granma.
Ok, back on track….
Cuba’s revolution has been going on silently for decades and now with thelatest documentary (which we are still waiting to arrive) it is receiving more attention and rightly so. Their country is a living working model of what can be done when the government and citizens work together toward one goal. Their journey is one of tremendous struggle and change, but the results are truly amazing and encouraging.
For more resources on Cuba’s Green Revolution check out our Cuba resource page.
Another site, run by Julián Gutiérrez and Cindy O’Hara, two folks we have worked with in the past, contains great photos of daily life in Cuba.