Examples of SLED in Orania
Orania practices permaculture, a science-cum-lifestyle that aims to generate more energy than it consumes, that does not destroy the basis on which it is built, and is self-sufficient in the production of local food needs. This involves a synergistic relationship in which the combined effect of each component supports the whole in such a manner that it exceeds the sum of the individual effects (Strydom 2007a:4). This means that each element in the system must have multiple purposes. For example, a windbreak must also serve as a firebreak, produce food and attract favorable insects. In the permaculture system all aspects are considered and specifically planned for, after careful observation of nature.
An application of permaculture in Orania is the light-weight chicken pens that are placed near a source of food and where the earth needs to be prepared for cultivation. The chicken pens do not have flooring, give sufficient protection against the elements and have nests for eggs and provision for food and water. This approach stems from a holistic view of fouls – a view that considers their behavior, needs and products carefully. The chicken pens are part of the system and contribute to the preparation of the earth where vegetables can be planted. The pens (kiepkoepels) stand at one station for about two weeks. The chickens clear the area of plants, loosen the ground, fertilize it and work organic materials into the soil. While this provides for the needs of the fowls, it also supplies eggs and meat for human consumption (Strydom 2007a:4). Orania also boasts a state-of-the-art dairy, which recycles the water it uses for organic farming. Water used to clean the dairy is taken to reservoirs and later used by farmers to irrigate their crops (Kotze 2003:168).
New hardworking and willing helpers, including fowls, geese, bees, dragon-flies, frogs, wasps, owls and bats are employed in Orania for various purposes. A familiar sight is the bat hotels. The relative placement of bat hotels is important and contributes significantly to control unfavorable insects. For this reason flats for owls are also built to control mice and rats in the area (Strydom 2007a:5).
To fulfill the need for labour, a system of labour banking has been employed. Groups of 10 to 14 workers pool their labour to help each other in Orania. A member who has worked for someone else receives a credit, while the account of the member who received the work is debited. This is not a physical account, but rather a record of what time is owed to other members. The members are usually friends and no supervision is required, because they are all motivated. Members see each other on a regular basis for weekly meetings that rotate. They share in each other’s joys or sorrows, which is another example of a synergy that benefits all the members in a group (Strydom 2007a:5).
The ability to dream, think, innovate and plan ahead, based on thorough research and study, is a prerequisite for a pioneering community. This was exactly the route which was followed to obtain an environmentally friendly waste disposal system in Orania. The sustainable recycle bank is an example of this kind of success story: it originated from a dream and hard work over a period of three years (Strydom 2007b:6). The recovery bank not only had a positive effect on the environment, but also created new opportunities for entrepreneurs in Orania. A unique waste dispenser was developed that provides for five different categories of waste, namely metal, glass, plastic, paper and non-renewable products. Wine and cold drink glasses are made from empty bottles by Lorette Naude, an entrepreneur who saw the opportunity to be creative (Strydom 2007b:8). Orania is also close to breaking even in financing the waste disposal cost from the income received for the waste products. In addition, compostable products have to be handled by each household on their property. This confirms that SLED is a long-term solution to development (Newbey 1999:71).
On 9 August 2008 Orania reconfirmed that a responsible and caring community is a living and developing community. Strydom (2008:2) believes that everyone is aware of the debate and problems around global warming. It is not carbon dioxide (CO2) that is the problem, but the fact that humans with their lavish lifestyle are responsible for the levels of CO2. CO2 emissions are threatening our survival and take between 30 and 40 years to be absorbed into the atmosphere. If all carbon emissions had been stopped in 1972, the levels of carbon emissions would by now have been on the decrease. If the whole world was far-sighted and could now switch over from a dirty to a clean economy, global warming will still continue, but the CO2 levels should start to decrease in 2040. The average temperature on earth will still increase by one percent, but only in 2100 (Strydom 2008:2).
Residents are encouraged to produce and consume local products, to use each other’s services and to buy locally. The community accepts and thrives on challenges to support itself and to become as self-sufficient as possible (Orania Movement 2004b). The most rational economic activity any community can perform is to satisfy local needs with local resources (De Klerk 2005). For success the community requires as much control as possible over its resources and finances. A local money system can contribute significantly to growing economic independence, plugging the leaks and achieving business retention, attraction and expansion (IRB and NBI 1998:7).
The next section shows that Orania is a community of pioneers and innovators. Community members do not wait for handouts, but work hard to achieve their dreams through their own initiative, labour, planning and financing.
Copyright by Ronald Mears