By Liat Perlin, Psychology & Environmental Studies '17
Renowned ecofeminst scholar and indigenous rights activist, Dr. Vandana Shiva, visited Tulane on March 23. In her first visit to New Orleans, Shiva was thrilled to be a part of the Tulane Environmental Studies Focus on the Environment Speaker Series, The Petrochemical City: The Costs and Consequences of Petrochemical Industrial Production.
“The only place we’ll be able to reclaim freedom, the only place we’ll be able to reclaim fearlessness, and the only place people will realize that the earth provides enough for everyone’s needs is from the soil,” said Shiva to an audience of over 300 students, faculty, and community members.
Referencing her 2007 publication entitled “Soil Not Oil,” Shiva spoke on the detrimental impacts that industrialized agricultural production has had on humanity as well as the earth. “Farming without farmers,” she said on fossil fuel based industrial agriculture, “means farming with poisons that will never produce real food.” Shiva advocated for a system of food production where food is grown for consumption, not for profit.
Shiva passionately relayed a story of a young boy who learned to grow a tomato plant and marveled at how a single seed could produce so many. “Children are being taught scarcity, dependence and fear, rather than lessons of abundance.” She encouraged the audience to plant “gardens of hope” to reinstall humanity’s connection to the natural world, break their reliance on fossil fuels, and model the importance of growing our own food.
In addition to her lecture, Shiva shared time with student leaders who helped organize the event. She challenged these Tulane students, as well as the greater New Orleans community, to embody equity, diversity, and richness, all values that come from the soil.
Event sponsors included: Tulane’s Environmental Studies Program, Undergraduate Student Government, Green Club, Newcomb College Institute, Phyllis M Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking, and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.