An inspirational man
One of the persons that inspired my to do Cycloasis was Pierre Rabhi and his remarkable work of over more than 4 decades. Unfortunately, not very well known outside the French language community. This modest and generous man has been and continues to be an inspiration to many.
A multicultural heritage
Born in 1938 into a Muslim family in Kénadsa, an oasis in southern Algeria, Pierre Rabhi was raised by his father, but due to personal and economic hardship he grew up with a French Catholic family. Growing up in a multicultural environment, with his strong ties to nature and his deep philosophical thinking, he dreamt of returning to the countryside. Inspired by Pierre Richard, a doctor, ecologist, and social entrepreneur who established the Cevennes National Park, he started a farming apprenticeship. Through hard work he acquired an isolated farm in the Ardèche and transformed the arid land into a sustainable high-yielding farm.
Farming to reconnect earth and humanity
As mainstream farming practices with pesticides and chemical fertilizers contradicted his beliefs and philosophy he chose to listen to the land, learn from the elders, and balance traditional practices with modern agronomical techniques. He applied agro-ecological principles, all which made his farm one of the most productive in the area. Pierre Rabhi developed a remarkable career and established sustainable farming programmes in many countries. Just some highlights:
- From 1981 onwards, he was to visit Burkina Faso as a ‘farmer without frontiers’. This work was funded by the CRIAD (Centre de relations internationales entre agriculteurs pour le développement – Centre for international relations between farmers and for development).
- In 1988 he founded the CIEPAD (Carrefour international d’échanges de pratiques appliquées au développement – International forum for the sharing of knowledge about applied practices). He developed an ‘optimised model for an agricultural site’, educational and training programmes and started numerous development programmes in Morocco, Palestine, Algeria, Tunisia, Senegal, Togo, Benin, Poland, Ukraine, and currently Romania.
- In 1992 he started a programme for the rehabilitation of the Chenini-Gabès oasis in Tunisia.
- In 1994 he founded the Oasis en Tous Lieux (Oasis everywhere) movement, aiming to promote an earth that can produce food and the reconstitution of social involvement.
- In 1997 and 1998, at the request of the UN, he was asked to prepare proposals for implementation of his plan during preparation for the ‘Agreement on action against desertification’.
Writer, philosopher, social entrepreneur
He has published many books in which he addresses human relationships and our attitude towards mother earth – ‘la terre nourricière’. He regularly gives conferences and workshops on themes as la sobriété heureuse (happiness in simplicity) and Degrowth. Considered to have prepared the ground for the alter-globalisation movement, he was invited to the European Social Forum, and named one of his speeches ‘Donner une âme à la mondialisation – Giving a soul to Globalisation’. He is also vice president of the Kokopelli association which works to protect biodiversity, in the production and distribution of organically and biodynamically grown seeds, and for the regeneration of the fertility of cultivated soils.
In 2006 he set up with others ‘Le mouvement Colibris’, a platform for exchange for those who wish to look for and practice alternative solutions for development. The name Colibris comes from an Indian-American legend on a hummingbird (see video in English).
Colibris aims to be a Transition facilitator and support the abilities in everyone to embody this change into concrete experiences and collective practices. Its mission is to encourage new models of society based on autonomy, ecology and humanism.