Mike Callicrate: Regenerative Food Practices

DOWN TO EARTH: The Planet to Plate Podcast

The current economic model is failing; harming both the farmer and the consumer. Mike Callicrate argues powerfully for a new way of thinking about our agriculture. He advocates humane animal husbandry and “regenerative” farming practices that complete a full food cycle. This is good for the farmer, the consumer, and the animal. He also lays out the destructive practices of giant corporations consolidating their market share, and how they are corrupting our ability to purchase good, clean, honest food.

In this excellent interview with Mary-Charlotte on the Down to Earth (Planet to Plate Podcast), Mike Callicrate revisits and expands upon topics from his conversation with The Almagre Review, in Issue 2: “Leadership.”

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Mike Callicrate: Rural Advocate. People Advocate. Animal Advocate

Joe Barrera: Stories that Heal

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There was a picture in The Gazette a couple of months ago that really got to me. The photo was front-page, full-color, and it was pure heartbreak. In the picture a grieving mother is on her hands and knees decorating the grave of her son. I could feel the pain of her broken heart. That awareness prompted me to propose a solution for veterans’ suicides.

The suicide of that mother’s son, the “ideal Marine,” as he was called, a young Colorado Springs veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was a senseless tragedy. It was senseless because the alienation from society that often precedes suicide can be prevented. We already know how to do it. We have solutions. We just need to implement them.

I would like to propose one good solution, simple, easily done and effective in healing the soul damage caused by war. Once we understand the soul damage of war veterans, especially combat veterans, we then have the option of implementing what we call The Military Veterans’ Community Dialogues. What are the Military Veterans’ Community Dialogues? They are opportunities for soldiers to tell their stories of war and coming home from war to other soldiers and veterans in non-judgmental, supportive, structured but informal sessions, in the presence of families, friends, and community members.

Please note: In the presence of loved ones, spouses, families, friends, and just as important, members of the public, the community at-large. It is common for veterans not to talk about their war experiences to “civilians,” which includes their families and friends. But in the Dialogues, they will open up and tell their stories to other soldiers and veterans. The families, friends and community members listen, absorb many things they have never heard before, and they react, they begin to tell their stories. All the group – soldiers, veterans, families, friends, community members – start to talk.

Healing begins once psychically damaged veterans start to tell their stories and listeners extend acceptance. All veterans deserve help in their readjustment to civilian life, which for many can take a whole lifetime. What is commonly not understood, however, is that like the young Marine who committed suicide, those who are combat veterans very often need a heightened level of support. Tragically, the “Ideal Marine” never got that. As a combat veteran of the Vietnam War I know the need for this kind of support. Because they are built on community, the Military Veterans Community Dialogues, which we have been doing since 2005, can provide some of that support. No amount of professional therapy at the VA or any where else, however competent and well-intentioned, can substitute for true community.

The principle idea motivating the Dialogues is first an honest understanding of what happens to soldiers in war, especially the soldiers who do the actual fighting. Secondly, it is to propose the creation of a true community, a network of responsible people actively bringing war veterans back into the embrace of the society they have fought to defend. When soldiers tell their stories there is a chance they will heal their trauma. If we heal trauma we reduce suicides. What is combat veteran trauma? There is an emptiness in the lives of many war veterans that is difficult to fill.

When infantry soldiers and others who actually fight are trained for war. they are trained to be the weapon that we use against aggressors, the sharp edge of the sword that bends our enemies to our will. This is the morality of war, if we can speak of war as a moral thing. We must destroy our enemies before they destroy us. This justification – however much it is believed in the beginning – ultimately fails to convince many soldiers, especially in the kinds of war we have been fighting since 9/11. We have been fighting insurgencies which create a moral dilemma because we kill non-combatants.

Like the Vietnamese in my war, Iraqis and Afghans will resist. They will fight against us. This resistance causes untold civilian casualties, including women and children. The consequence is that we have many soldiers who did their duty honorably but are now afflicted with soul damage, who are suffering from what is called “moral injury.” Moral injury can create a corrosive guilt. Out of this guilt a fateful remorse is born and a terrible sadness that defies healing. Soldiers who return from fighting insurgencies struggle to forget the war, to conquer guilt, to re-integrate. But for some this is very difficult if not impossible.

They do not see any hope of becoming normal again. They are at home, but not at home. Many develop a consciousness of futility which leads to depression. This leads to a desire to end the suffering, to seek solace in oblivion, to just slip away into nothingness. To die.

~ O~

Joe Barrera, Ph.D., is the former director of the Ethnic Studies Program at UCCS, a combat veteran of the Vietnam War and one of the founders of the Colorado Springs Military Veterans’ Community Dialogues.

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Why We Read: 2

Being a project dedicated to growing Colorado literature, we ask ourselves this question at the Almagre quite a bit. Why build a journal, paper no less, and expect others to read it?

For us, the easy answer is this: pick up a copy of Issue 3, open it, fan the pages, breathe in the spine’s scent. Take it, sit with it, create a silent space. Then…explore the poems within, the stories, the essays, the art. We know that the Authors and Artists in Issue 3 will give any reader their money back many times over…restored in full with ideas, new perspectives, as-yet-learned words, and renewed optimism in the power of imagination.

But that is self-serving. And it’s really about more than our journal. It’s about participation in all that’s going on. Literature promises truth; and that is even when it distorts history, or kneads it, bends it, warps it, or is about hypocrites and thieves and liars; or deals with gouging, skullduggery, banditry, or lowlifes. Literature promises truth, because it triangulates around it, shines a flashlight one way, then another, producing a changing shadow that can provide deeper understanding. The point is, literature begs us to know that any given subject requires curiosity and examination from multiple angles. This curiosity should never end.

We’ve entered an age of alternative facts…and that is a worrying thing. In certain venues, we prefer it one way—facts as facts—a thing which doesn’t build on alternatives but on additions. With literature (fiction and nonfiction), we are faced with an honest proposition: “Here is my side of the story,” or, “Here is a side of the story.” By taking the time to do this, we acknowledge that a gain in understanding is a journey. A matter of course. For those who believe they have reached a destination, we feel pity.

To read is to fend ignorance, acquire knowledge and wisdom, to join the polity as those who would prevent a world of alternative facts. For many of us, it is the way forward.

With Profound Gratitude to all our Readers,

Editor & Artist, John Lewis

 

Janice Gould Presents at Colorado College

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The Almagre Review’s first literary salon, April 6, at Colorado College. Janice Gould and the audience read and discuss feminist author, Kate Chopin, and her fiction piece, “The Story of an Hour.”

Why Readers Matter

image1Our publication’s newest reader. And we’re thankful to the parent of this greatness-in-the-making for sharing such a candid moment!

Writers ask a lot of their readers. It’s more than just time. The solicitation is quite intimate, begging more of a total investment.

We can’t speak for everyone, but here at our humble publication, we know how slippery and temporary ideas are…all ideas, great ones especially. Once committed to paper, an idea finds a quasi-permanence.

So in the age where most stories are told through moving images and sound, the written word in all its static glory must rely on its most powerful quality. That quality is this intimacy…the theater of another’s mind. Here, a poem or novel moves in, like a circus, it sets up camp, unfolds its tents, un-carriages the animals, and builds a show between the ears of another human. Think of this invitation, this opportunity to inhabit each other. It’s a unique dialogue. When the reader shares his time with all those set pieces stored in the attic of his imagination, those wares built from the thread of experience, he gives the writer her reason to be. He also gives her the stage for her ideas. The necessary loop is complete and the current can flow.

We all remember that thing the last exquisite novel provided which a movie cannot produce. The scenes and scents and people moved through our head. We were not passengers, we were not emotional patients strapped to the operating table. We were part of the story. In some ways, it was even about us.

Thank you to our readers who have taken the time to be a part of our journey. We look forward to the big sky horizon of the West and all the future stories waiting to fill our pages.

~John Lewis,
Artist/Editor
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