6. ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION

6.3 D ISCUSSION

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can be (and has been) held up as a model for other communities’ development. He is quick to point out the most important lesson of their model is that context is important and a holistic approach to development. They see their efforts as intrinsically

dependent on their history, culture and environment. In terms of knowledge-sharing, especially the agricultural skills they are promoting must always be localized in context; knowledge cannot simply be transferred. They can only offer lessons and support that must then be adapted to suit another culture, landscape, and local species.

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6.3 Discussion

6.3.1 Implications for Alternative Development

One of the main inspirations for this research is the concept of Alternative

Development theories. As discussed above, this is not a monolithic theory but rather a plurality of concepts with the overarching commonality being a critical approach to mainstream development discourses. This case absolutely contributes to the growing body of work theorizing about and documenting cases outside the purview of

conventional, modernist development theories in that the subjects are using low-tech solutions, prioritizing non-monetary culturally-specific aspects of their economic development in a highly context-oriented model.

The principles espoused by the community workers (connections between people and each other, people and the land, multigenerational concerns, fostering a sense of purpose, belonging and identity) are actually holistic, proven and common-sensical. It can be argued that these cases are only called “alternative” because mainstream development theory has been co-opted by national and private political and economic interests. While this type of research and case can be packaged or analyzed from various theoretical perspectives (alternative development,

modernization theory, Alternative Economic Spaces) in the end it is about what works well in the real world, in people’s lives. Really this thesis and development

(modernization) as a theory boils down to well-being and happiness. So if happiness and well-being are the actual goals of human economic development, then we need to think about what actually improves people’s lives.

The Grant Study, a monumental 75 year longitudinal and wide-ranging study that followed hundreds of men who graduated from Harvard in the 1930s, found that

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in terms of happiness and contentment, the quality of people’s connections,

relationships and meaningfulness were paramount. Income, health, success, marital status and IQ had much less of an impact on happiness than connections. In terms of work, George Vaillant, directed the study from 1972-2004 puts it, “feeling connected to one’s work was far more important than making money or achieving traditional success (Gregoire, 2013). These findings support the work of the FA and other proponents of alternative development and AES. From this perspective, what the FA members are doing is incredibly modern, current and forward-thinking. They are putting into practice principles and forms of living only now being proven effective in mainstream anthropological and psychological research.

6.3.2 Implications for Theories of Alterity, AES, and AFN

The research case supports the ideas of Gibson-Graham that there is a diversity of motivations and experiences both within and outside of mainstream capitalism that should be brought to light. This case offers an example of a community consciously incorporating other values (Land-God-Gaga, non-competitiveness, multigenerational concerns, autonomy from outsiders, collective decision-making, low prioritization of profit, sense of identity and belonging) into their economic decision-making but still interacting with the mainstream capitalist system.

Returning to Gibson-Graham’s concept of a Diverse Economy, the types of economic transactions taking place in relation to organic farming in the area fall into all three categories; of course the sale of produce to the outside world takes place in a market situation, but locally there are examples of “alternative market” transactions, such as local trading and relationship and meaning oriented sales. For example, I would classify the process whereby tourists or visiting academics purchase goods in order to support the community in this section. There are also non-market

transactions, such as gifts, knowledge-sharing and charitable activities.

Moving on to the column in the chart on labour organization, again there are some economic activities that are based simply on wage labour but, more

interestingly, many forms that would fall into the categories of “alternative-paid” or

“unpaid” labour. Some examples observed in the area of alternative-paid would include: cooperative labour, self-employed, and even more academic fellowships and semi-paid charity positions. Unpaid labour such as housework and family care are expected and, as is the case elsewhere, fall largely in the hands of women, but

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volunteer work, visitation and care of local elderly people, spending time recording the TEK and oral history of their culture, working to develop organic farming techniques for the express purpose of sharing that knowledge to the benefit of the whole community are excellent and promising examples of non-wage oriented labour forms.

Finally, and most importantly, in terms of organizational form, these cases offer a hopeful and robust example of an “alternative-capitalist” form of economic organization. As has been argued and broken down into a set of values in the previous section of this thesis, the economic decision making in the area has deliberately taken on a form that mixes capitalist, market forces with local social and environmental ethics. This has been a very conscious and deliberate shift to include these principles in their decision-making in order for their development efforts to be more sustainable.

Figure 17 -

A Diverse Economy (Gibson-Graham 2006)

This case can best be described as a sophisticated and mindful attempt to reap the rewards of the capitalist free market while systematically putting in place

mechanisms that mediate the more negative social and ecological effects of this system. This is precisely the type of revealing that Gibson-Graham requested social scientists to look at.

Recall that Fuller and Jonas (2003) expanded on Gibson-Graham’s chart to argue that cases of alternative or non-capitalist economic organization can further be

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divided into two categories: alternative-substitute” and “alternative oppositional.” I would argue that this case represents a mixture of the two and thereby calls into questions such categories. The case is alternative-substitute in that part of the impetus for change is simply pragmatic; they are struggling to compete with imports in the mainstream, conventional produce market. But it is definitely alternative-oppositional in that the participants are actively questioning and organizing against the negative aspects of conventional farming.

6.3.3 Policy Implications

There are many important policy implications of the work of the FA as analyzed in this research. Some key principles that can be gleaned from it are the importance of context, connections, culture, and meaning.

Mainstream economic discourse has put great emphasis on finding patterns to human economic behavior that transcend culture and locale, searching for one-size fits all models of economic development. This case can be seen as an antidote to such thinking. The FA members are clear that their main contribution to a development model is that social, cultural, historical, ecological and economic context is significant. If another community in Taiwan or elsewhere hoped to learn anything from this model that they can apply, the main lesson would be that they must look carefully at their own situation, values, strengths and weaknesses. This principle of being context-specific applies both to organizational and social concerns as well as the more technical and practical concerns of natural agriculture, which also must cater to local ecological and market situations.

While this research and case (as well as many cases of Alterative

Development) are in non-Western, non-industrialized areas (or marginal areas within Western and/or industrialized societies) and the “bads” caused by free market

economics to society and the environment may often be seen in their most extreme in colonized or marginalized populations, that is not to say that they are limited to those areas. Depression, drug addiction, violence, detachment and other “diseases of modernity” are experienced in varying degrees by all populations affected by capitalism all over the world. This community’s conscious attempt to recognize and mitigate the social challenges presented by modern capitalist society and employ a

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contextual, people-oriented, holistic approach to dealing with them is a strategy that can and should be learned from.

6.3.4 Criticisms

While the purpose of this research is to present alternative values used in economic decision-making of people in the research area from their perspective as much as possible, of course there is also the opportunity to critically evaluate the projects.

Jones et al. (2010) argue that meanings and values are less important and that the only significant point on which to evaluate AFN cases is on ecological sustainability.

While it is the position of this paper that values and meanings are worthy of study not least because they can give valuable insight into the social sustainability of a project, it is still important to look at the environmental impact of a project. However, as this is a very complicated task that is beyond my technical ability, I can only point out a few observed issues.

The agricultural methods promoted by the FA are surely more ecologically sustainable than conventional agricultural techniques, as they avoid use of damaging chemical fertilizers and pesticides. However, much of the tilled land is still planted with monocrops, which are vulnerable to pests, disease, erosion and soil depletion.

Some farms have perennial fruit trees but many are annual, vegetable crops with short root systems that do little to combat erosion of topsoil (with negative consequences for soil health and can lead to dangerous and expensive landslides and silt deposits in the reservoir system). Furthermore, many of the vegetable plots I observed used black tarpaulin as a weed control measure. This technique involves spreading black plastic over the whole field with holes only for the desired plants to grow through, weeds are starved for air and sunlight. This technique can pass most organic certification

criteria, but it leaves many questions regarding the ecological footprint of such practice and also the potential health of the food grown on this land, the soil, the downstream waterways and consumers of the produce.

Another issue observed in the community in terms of environmental protection is perhaps a lack of mindfulness in purchasing consumer products from outside the area. It is as an urban environmentalist that such consumer products stand out to me, but are still worth looking at especially if eco-tourism is to be developed in the area. I, and other ecologically-minded visitors, can be on the one hand impressed by their local commitment to organic agriculture and yet disappointed that the coffee

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products served are not fair trade, the soaps not biodegradable and the heavy use of disposable products, among other things. While not in this paper’s research area, Smangus ecotourism community is an impressive place for their buildings, autonomy, collective decision-making and cultural promotion, however, most of the food served is conventionally farmed and brought in from outside despite their nearby kin’s production of organic food. This point was raised by Dr. Lin in at the TEK workshop, so perhaps progress will be made. Another unfortunate issue in Smangus is the use of plastic disposable table cloths, thrown away after each meal and other disposables.

This final criticism is quite difficult to express. In all the meetings and conversations, it was very frequently pointed out that the government did not help them with various projects. For example, when they talk about building the church, maintaining a trail, rebuilding after a typhoon, selling their produce, the phrase, “the government didn’t help us,” is very frequently repeated. This is interesting and speaks to their sense of antipathy towards government institutions that have not earned their trust and also to their desire for local autonomy. But some of the things that they point out not having help with are rather commonsensically not something one would expect government help with. This point is not meant to fault the people speaking this way but rather point out a theme that may indicate an issue of over dependence on government help through what some may controversially call “learned helplessness.”

On a more positive note, this mantra seems to be part of a process of local empowerment and shedding of any past experience of learned helplessness.

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在文檔中 有機之根: 台灣泰雅族部落替代性食物網路與發展之研究 - 政大學術集成 (頁 115-121)