|Introduction to the 2001/2002 Winter Plenty Bulletin
by Peter Schweitzer
December 1, 2001
Dear Plenty Friends,
When 250 of us founded the Farm Community in Tennessee in 1971 in our minds we were on a precipice overlooking the dawn of a new age. Social, political and spiritual experiences had changed us completely and made us want to dedicate our lives to creating a world of peace and love. We were untested, but we were determined. We were naïve, but we had faith. Things would work out. We would learn how to take care of ourselves. We would create peace by being peaceful. We would build trust by being honest. We and our fellow hippies around the planet would change the world.
By 1974 our numbers had doubled and we were living in houses (even if most of them were primarily surplus army tents). We were growing our food and feeding ourselves a healthful vegetarian diet. We were delivering our own babies. We were getting along with our rural south neighbors, and we were living on about $1.00/day per person.
Whats next? Thats when we thought of "Plenty." Plenty was our way of saying were strong enough to reach out beyond the boundaries of the Farm and lend a hand. Since that time we have been able to reach out to inner cities in the US, Indian reservations, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Mexico, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Dominica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Lesotho, Liberia and Belize on average annual budgets of $150,000/year supplied by less than 2,000 donors and a handful of foundations and funding organizations.
Over these last 27 years Plenty has been a part of the appropriate technology movement, the alternative energy movement, the fair trade movement, the environmental movement, the sustainable development movement, the anti-nuke movement, the human rights movement and the peace movement.
Peace is not a debatable issue with us. Were ALWAYS for peace. If patriotism is love of country, were patriots. But we love all countries, not just our own, and all peoples, because we cannot separate ourselves from anyone.
We are committed to forging trails out of the doldrums of hate and revenge, violence and oppression in ways that dont add fuel to these old fires. Its as true today as it was in 1971; the clearest trail out begins with ourselves.
It was therapeutic for me to go down to Belize after the fearsome hurricane that caused so much destruction in the villages where Plenty has been working for the past ten years. I visited with friends who had lost everything except their lives. They never had much to begin with, but losing their crops and so much of the rainforest is like wiping out their savings and the natural resources they depend upon for food, housing materials, medicine and beauty. The rainforest that so many of our projects were designed to help protect is in tatters. Yet, by the time I arrived, 3 weeks after the storm, the people were already rebuilding, salvaging whatever they could from their mangled fields, laughing as they recounted harrowing hurricane stories. I was reminded once more of the indomitable power of the human spirit: neither defeated in death, nor in life; it may be diminished, but is never broken. Through this enduring spirit may we all know peace and give thanks. We love you and appreciate your kindness.