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Our mission

“We must be the change
we wish to see in the world”

–Mahatma Gandhi


Our mandate stated below, in principle, still stands. However, it is now time to shift focus (read more, below).

The Scythe Network’s most apparent focus is the preservation of, and continued research in, the best use of the scythe. Equally important, we support and actively contribute to the implementation of the goals set by the “Earth Charter” as well as less well-known declarations such as “Caring for the Earth”. However, the fine words spoken and written on behalf of Life will, for the most part, not manifest as reality until a phenomenon referred to as “Global Mind Change“–the antithesis of the present economic and cultural “globalization”– gains significant momentum.

Therefore, underneath all our preoccupation with one fine hand tool is our commitment to helping bring about that change which will require more action than words.

This, in a nutshell, is our mission.

Although this website’s content (over one thousand pages) is the single most comprehensive source we know of on all the varied aspects of the scythe’s application, it is by no means a complete “piece of architecture”. Rather, we are building a scaffold, so to speak, to which sections can readily be added–in fact must be added–by many others who feel moved to contribute to the process of creating a more “convivial” world.

Interim, portions of the Technical sections (as well as the scythe buyer’s guide) are not congruent with some of the scythe-related information on the web or found in other printed form. We shall continue to question the quality of service, at times in a less-than-gentle manner. This is because we feel that the cage of complacency needs to be rattled (as it does in many more areas than just how the scythe is maintained and used). However, creative feedback is always welcome!

All in all, we hope that our constructive criticism is adequately balanced with the positive part of the picture!


Update, Nov. 2008 —

When Willis Harman wrote Global Mind Change (1992), he probably envisioned that the phenomenon he was making such a compelling case for would evolve at a considerably faster pace and possibly temper the dire consequences of worldwide “growth” and “development” (which some cultural analysts have likened to the development of a cancer cell).

Although the “Change” is readily noticeable on the radar screen of many of us, the masses seem reluctant to “voluntarily” contribute to it. Simultaneously, other less positive changes are taking place — the changing climate, dwindling energy reserves, the growing dependence of many countries’ population on “outsourced” products, the Global Financial Meltdown, etc. Each of these have repercussions far greater than most people realize or are willing to face up to. Theymay also be beneficial in the long run — chiefly because of the vital lessons and stark awakenings they are bringing along. Interim, however, they will present challenges none of us would consciously bargain for; nor will our children…

The words of visionaries like Ivan Illich now hold even more pertinence than when he wrote them 40 or so years ago. As a collective of well-to-do individuals we did not need to listen then, or so we thought… Donella Meadows’ life work culminating in Beyond the Limits ought to have caused a major culture shock. It did not. The list is long…

Are we crying over spilled milk?
Well, up to a point, or rather two points: The first is that the milk continues to be spilled — with other words, we are still not quite listening. The prophetic voices of many other contemporary writers and researchers are not having enough effect.

Consequently, what may have been a gentler transition to a “greener” path is now probably pie in the sky. Instead, as an old Slovak adage would put it, “What we have cooked for ourselves we must also eat” and, let’s admit it, the stew is worse than McDonald’s fare… The digesting of it may take a while — a period for which James Kunstler coined a term “The Long Emergency”. Also the title of his 2005 book, it is neither a well-known nor popular concept; certainly not in the minds of the general public or policy makers.

Nevertheless, all authors writing and discussing this topic (with Richard Heinberg perhaps the most prominent among them) agree that a serious crisis is a few short years rather than decades away — if we are lucky… The financial hullabaloo presently receiving the world’s media attention may well be the trigger to set off a chain reaction. They also agree that the present infrastructure of this civilization can not be “saved”, period… even if we had oil reserves for another 100 years (which oil explorers tell us that we don’t), the bankers and politicians learned to trust one another (slim chance) or populations willingly sorted their needs from wants (which appears unlikely).

This planet’s ecosystem simply can tolerate only so much “economic growth” regardless of how “sustainable” it is. Wolfgang Sachs pointed out many years ago that the term “sustainable development” is an oxymoron — and that instead we need to learn how to “un-develop”. We think he has been on the right track. But again, which of the present policy makers would take such a suggestion to heart?? Nearly all of them are still promising that more of the same old growth is waiting somewhere around the next bend in the road…

Contrary to such naïve pep talk, the “unconventional” analysts are calling for a near complete turn-around of the global trends to date and see a major shift to local production of food, tools and other essentials as unavoidable. On the whole, this may well be a positive evolution — because huge amounts of energy in transportation alone will be saved and, more importantly, it will bring people back together.

To be continued.