Its 4:30pm and the sun is setting over the dry grassy fields and scattered
rocks around me at Kufunda Village. Winter Solstice has just passed here in
Zimbabwe, and as I sit in my vest and wool hat listening to the fall-like
breezes through leaves I am feeling both the weight and the new day of this
Solstice. Its a time of change for the Earth, and for my journey.
I just confirmed my plane ticket home to Boston on July 11th, bringing my
six-month African adventure to a close. Yes, I am sad to leave; I have
fallen in love and deep connection with Southern and East Africa. My six
weeks in Zimbabwe has been magical, immersing myself in daily life with two
fabulous communities, strangely similar to TLC Farm and City Repair back in
My life here in Zim actually feels a lot like my life in Portland (except a
few major differences-see below). I live most of the time at Kufunda
Village, a permaculture learning center on the fringe of Harare (which
actually is quite rural) and then go into the city (Highfields Township) and
spend time with the Uhuru Network, a group of collectives focused on very
creative tools for social change and popular education.
The cross pollinating between Uhuru, Kufunda, City Repair and TLC Farm will
all come together this Saturday in a permaculture day at Kufunda. I am very
excited for the permaculture teams of Uhuru and Kufunda to connect their
wisdom, and they are excited to learn more about our Portland efforts. In
fact, Uhuru is initiating an Intersection Repair!!
My other work here has included meeting with each of Kufundas teams to
review and redevelop their process for Monitoring and Evaluation. Serving
as a facilitator and also upgrading their spreadsheets has been a fun way to
learn about another organization from the inside out. Ive also introduced
a hay box cooker to Kufunda, adding to their assortment of energy efficient
Last weekend, I visited one of the rural communities that Kufunda works with
and witnessed the permaculture gardens, rammed earth buildings, womens art
collective and new preschool, all inspired by attendees of Kufundas
workshops. What Kufunda does is help people remember the traditional ways
that too often have been forgotten.
Actually, Kufunda helps all of us remember our roots. Last week Kufunda
hosted a "Learning Journey," where a dozen non-profit leaders from Boston,
MA visited as part of a fellowship program. It was absolutely wild for me
to meet these extraordinary people from my own hometown while they learned
about the efforts here--oh the levels of cross-pollination!!
And, with the Uhuru Network, I am learning some very creative means of
sharing information about the current situation here in Zim. Of course, it
s illegal to speak out loud, or even to gather in public, so ya have to be
creative. Ill tell you stories later.
On that note, it has been quite saddening to witness a nation deep in
crisis. I mean, can you imagine that the money in your pocket today will be
worth 10% less tomorrow? I am not exaggeratingcheck it out: two weeks ago
US$1 = Z$60,000. Five days later US$1 = Z$90,000. Four days later US$1 =
Z$110,000. A few days later: US$1 = Z$160,000. That means, in about THE ZIM
DOLLAR IS LOSING HALF ITS VALUE EACH WEEK (or something like that).
There are so many problems that stem from this inflation, on personal and
professional levels. Beyond the obvious devastating loss of personal
savings, there are so many complications Prices change literally multiple
times a day but salaries dont. No one will accept checks, since it takes
days for them to clear (and that means losing money). People are not
allowed to take more than $1.5 million out of the bank at one time thats
less than $10!! You should see the ATM lines, block long, all the time.
And the largest note in print is $100,000, about 70 centsso people carry
literally stacks of bills. Its really wild, really horrible. You get the
I should also mention that the OFFICIAL exchange rate is US$1 = Z$250, while
the black market rate (which everyone uses) is now US$1 = Z$160,000. If I
paid the official rate for an average bus ride, it would cost US$120.
I have many more observations, learnings and comments about fuel, food,
infrastructure, economy and politics, which I will share in my blog (updated
as soon as I can; power and Internet is hard to find for any length of
time) but also check out www.zwnews.com for more on the political crisis
here right now.
I will end this note by saying that I am deeply grateful for this trip and
am astonished by how many people and groups I have connected with and
learned from. While I am sad to leave, I am looking forward to integrating
my new perspectives into my workI cant wait to see what I do! ;-)
in community, always,
~~Portland Cross-Pollination Project!~~
January 22, 1978