About 60 people attended our free screening of The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil in the Carlton Theatre, Teignmouth on Monday 18th January.
By interviewing different local people doing a range of different jobs, the film documented Cuba’s transition from a highly mechanized, industrial agricultural system to one of organic farms and urban gardens after Cuba’s economy collapsed along with the Soviet Union in 1990. Despite hardships and struggles, what shone through was the spirit of community and creativity as they learned to increase self-sufficiency and reduce oil use. As pesticide- and fertiliser-use fell, people shifted from sedentary office jobs to using bicycles and working in small organic fields and roof-top gardens. They became slimmer and healthier, seeing an associated drop in diabetes-cases. Lifestyles changed – as they pointed out, you can drive an air-conditioned tractor (with CD-player) for 12 hours but oxen work at their own pace then stop when they’ve had enough! Proud of their achievements, they explained that they hadn’t reverted to a primitive peasant society: they have several universities and now train more doctors per capita than the United States.
After the film Antony led an informal discussion, which explored our own opportunities to increase use of local food supplies and the possibility of garden-sharing, along with reminiscences from older people in the audience who reflected back to war-time emphasis on self-sufficiency. The evening also provided an opportunity for informal discussion over drinks in the bar. Donations and a raffle raised funds which paid for use of the Theatre.