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The tambos network

“The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.”  — Pete Seeger.   

Welcome! Be the change you want to see! Join Rondout Valley Permaculture member Mark Mardon in person and social justice/sustainability activist Ryan Geller live via Skype from Oakland, California for a discussion of "the tambos network," a vision for networking independent small businesses and community enterprises into intentional community models, creating greater success for all. 

In the Inca empire, tambos, or relay stations, served as rest and resupply depots for runners (chasquis) who delivered messages and goods along the vast network of royal Incan roads.  Constructed at key points along the Andean road system, tambos allowed messages and materials to be moved swiftly as one runner handed off his or her load to another.  Tambos also were planned settlements serving as multi-purpose community centers and activity hubs. 

We find this concept useful in describing what is happening organically both in Northern California and in the Hudson Valley. All manner of interrelated/interdependent enterprises are cooperating for mutual benefit and sustenance.  These hubs of activity — clusters of farms, businesses, nonprofit organizations, wellness centers, educational complexes and the like — are what we call tambos. They are the big dots amid a plethora of smaller dots on the map of sustainable enterprises throughout a region.  Tambos are marketplaces and community centers; they serve as nexuses for trade and information sharing. Goods, services and information flow to and from them. While some tambos pulse with constant activity, other outlying tambos, still in their infancy and not yet fully connected to the network, have the potential to become thriving hubs.

The way tambos are springing up throughout North America and around the world mimics the delicate web of connectivity that provides health and well-being for all living things. 

We see this process as an organic social response to severe environmental stresses, bringing together highly motivated individuals determined to meet serious, often life-threatening challenges with ingenuity and style. The tambos tap people's creativity and energy to create a new sharing way of life in America, motivated by economic necessity, health concerns, cultural cross-pollination, environmental consciousness and restoration, mutual love and respect, and the desire for spiritual fulfillment. 

Tambos consist of some combination of organic farms, farmers' markets and natural food stores; locally sourced restaurants; holistic healing clinics and childcare centers; solar and other alternative energy companies; tool suppliers and mechanics' and carpenters' shops; herbal crafts stores, spirit retreats and yoga, tai chi, and meditation centers; progressive churches, synagogues, and mosques; festivals and fairs; crafts shows; community art studios, galleries, theaters and meeting houses; Waldorf schools and other education centers; and a vast array of other enterprises striving for sustainability and right livelihood. 

We want to shine a light on the tambos network as a way of encouraging and facilitating right livelihood, open-source sharing, interdependence and interconnectedness, sustainable, human-scale technologies, gift and barter economies, ecological ethics and esthetics, and survival with dignity and grace in the face of hard times.

Joining us for the discussion via Skype will be guest presenter Ryan Geller (pictured below) of Oakland, California. Geller is part of the young, enlightened, impassioned activist generation bent on creating a sustainable alternative economy to support people as the mainstream economy falters. An electrician by trade, Geller is skilled in organic farming and solar technologies. He is passionate about connecting inner-city people with rural farms, providing green livelihoods and ensuring food security for all.

Host Mark Mardon has been a member of Rondout Valley Permaculture (RVP) for the last two years, where he has hosted meetups on sustainable energy, hunting, fishing, and trade and barter. He was associate editor of the Sierra Club's national magazine for eight years, and editor of the arts, entertainment, and cultural events calendar of San Francisco's Bay Area Reporter LGBT newspaper for nine years. He currently works as editor for the California-based nonprofit Forests Forever and has worked locally with Manna Jo Greene of Clearwater on both the Mid-Hudson Regional Sustainability Plan and the Indian Point Environmental Justice campaign. Mardon served as editor for long-time RVP member Dina Falconi's field guide and cookbook, Foraging and Feasting, and is author of Into the Wilderness: An Artist's Journey. Mardon was close friend and editor of his mentor, the late David R. Brower of Berkeley, California, Chairman of Earth Island Institute, founder of Friends of the Earth and the League of Conservation Voters, and the first Executive Director of the Sierra Club in the '50s and '60s, who set the Club on an activist course. It is Brower's endless optimism in the face of immense challenges that inspires Mardon to look at tambos as beacons of light and hope.

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  • patty l.

    Way to go, Roundout Valley folks. Thank you for leading the way as we Rochester folks learn from you examples and emerge, one day, in an equally strong leadership role (my hope). Many blessings.

    1 · March 15, 2014

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