Two figures quietly amble through the near-empty fields that line the western shores of Lake Titicaca, the vast blue expanse that stretches across the Peruvian border province of Puno into Bolivia. The air is crisp, filled with nothing but the sound of the wind and the odd sprightly greeting by man, sheep and, occasionally, from a distance, minibus. The passer-by might suspect that life here has remained essentially unchanged for centuries.
Melvis points to a patch of potato plants to my left, and comments that the flowers are blue. This is the first sign that something is amiss. It is early December, only the beginning of the warmer, rainy season – they should not be showing themselves yet.
Melvis, a 19-year-old amateur radio DJ, has returned from university to the lakeside community of Cruzpata. Cruzpata is part of Suma Yapu (‘beautiful field’), one of 20 Nuclei of Cultural Affirmation (NACAs) that constitute the Andean Project for Peasant Technologies (PRATEC). PRATEC was created in 1987 after its founders spent three decades working within the development field, concluding that development professionals entirely dismiss the Andean idea of Sumak Kawsay (‘good living’). NACAs accompany communities across Peru, collectively assessing climate and community changes.
There is no doubt the climate has changed here. In recent years the rainy season has become erratic. Often there are droughts. As you read this, storms induced by El Niño have caused rivers to flood, carrying livestock away and devastating crops. People in badly affected areas have no food, seeds have been lost and houses are falling down.
The disarray of nature’s rhythms imperils an Andean agriculture that traditionally depended on conversation with the pacha (life-zones) in which both climate and humans, as members of the ayllu (extended family), play a role. PRATEC member Jorge Ishizawa notes the feeling that the tourist industry has become greedy, disrespecting Pachamama (Mother Earth). The floods are her response.
According to Don Mateo Mamani, elder from the community of Vizcachani, the fox had always ‘advised us when to sow and…on the production of the year’ and the lizards ‘of the occurrence of frosts.’ Now ‘other signs have appeared.’ Deer, joskas (tragacanth), wild relatives of the turnip with yellow flowers come and ‘we do not know what they want to tell us.’ The floods are another hard-to-read sign.
PRATEC communities have spent decades affirming Andean practices of agriculture and conservation, medicine, governance and education. They incorporate the agro-festive calendar into schools, teaching children to respect the apus (mountain deities) and learn what different plants and animals tell them. They nurture school fields and learn to cook foods based on nutritious, diverse crops, rather than bought produce like rice and pasta.
Since the floods, Eliana Apaza of Suma Yapu NACA is concerned that although Andean communities have a tradition of reciprocity, many may still be at risk in the coming winter season without sufficient food, seeds and materials. Their situation is exacerbated by unstable glacial melt, along with open-cast mines, threatening the high pastures containing the greatest wild biodiversity in the mountains – wild plants that can provide during failed harvests.
The collective wisdom of these communities contains an abundance of eco-systemic knowledge that scientists can only dream of. As PRATEC’s founder, the late Eduardo Grillo, pointed out, the Andeans’ 10,000 year old conversation with their environment means to ‘dance to the rhythm which at every moment corresponds to the annual cycle of life’. It is how the disarray in the pacha that humans have caused may be repaired.
Yasmin Gunaratnam reflects on John Berger’s gut solidarity with the stranger
Charlie Clarke and Heather Mendick discuss how to work through the tensions within Momentum
As man-made global warming gets closer to the tipping point, Andrew Simms finds reasons to be positive about averting catastrophic climate change
In this extract from his new book The Candidate, Alex Nunns tells the inside story of how Jeremy Corbyn scraped onto the Labour leadership ballot in 2015
Graham Jones proposes a framework for a diverse movement to flourish
Musician Eliane Correa reflects on the fading revolution
Trump's victory is another sign of the failure of the centre-left's narrative on climate change. A new message is needed, and new politicians to deliver it, writes Alex Randall
Siobhán McGuirk says the question we are too afraid to ask is simple - what kind of society leads to Donald Trump as President?
The battle lines are clear. Democracy is in peril and the left must take itself seriously electorally and politically. Ruth Potts speaks to Gary Younge, who was based in Muncie, Indiana, for the US election, about the implications of Donald Trump’s victory
We need a society built on openness, community and equality to truly defeat everything that trump stands for, writes Nick Dearden.
Utopia: Work less play more
A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen
Short story: Syrenka
A short story by Kirsten Irving
Utopia: Industrial Workers Taking the Wheel
Hilary Wainwright reflects on an attempt by British workers to produce a democratically determined alternative plan for their industry – and its lessons for today
Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant
Bike courier Maggie Dewhurst takes on the gig economy… and wins
We spoke to Mags about why she’s ‘biting the hand that feeds her’
Utopia: Daring to dream
Imagining a better world is the first step towards creating one. Ruth Potts introduces our special utopian issue
Utopia: Room for all
Nadhira Halim and Andy Edwards report on the range of creative responses to the housing crisis that are providing secure, affordable housing across the UK
A better Brexit
The left should not tail-end the establishment Bremoaners, argues Michael Calderbank
News from movements around the world
Compiled by James O’Nions
Podemos: In the Name of the People
'The emergence as a potential party of government is testament both to the richness of Spanish radical culture and the inventiveness of activists such as Errejón' - Jacob Mukherjee reviews Errejón and Mouffe's latest release
Survival Shake! – creative ways to resist the system
Social justice campaigner Sakina Sheikh describes a project to embolden young people through the arts
‘We don’t want to be an afterthought’: inside Momentum Kids
If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, a space must be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children, write Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette
The Kurdish revolution – a report from Rojava
Peter Loo is supporting revolutionary social change in Northern Syria.
How to make your own media
Lorna Stephenson and Adam Cantwell-Corn on running a local media co-op
Book Review: The EU: an Obituary
Tim Holmes takes a look at John Gillingham's polemical history of the EU
Book Review: The End of Jewish Modernity
Author Daniel Lazar reviews Enzo Traverso's The End of Jewish Modernity
Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Ida-Sofie Picard introduces Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants – as told to Jenny Nelson
Book review: Angry White People: Coming Face to Face With the British Far-Right
Hilary Aked gets close up with the British far right in Hsiao-Hung Pai's latest release
University should not be a debt factory
Sheldon Ridley spoke to students taking part in their first national demonstration.
Book Review: The Day the Music Died – a Memoir
Sheila Rowbotham reviews the memoirs of BBC director and producer, Tony Garnett.
Power Games: A Political History
Malcolm Maclean reviews Jules Boykoff's Power Games: A Political History
Book Review: Sex, Needs and Queer Culture: from liberation to the post-gay
Aiming to re-evaluate the radicalism and efficacy of queer counterculture and rebellion - April Park takes us through David Alderson's new work.
A book review every day until Christmas at Red Pepper
Red Pepper will be publishing a new book review each day until Christmas
Book Review: Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics
'In spite of the odds Corbyn is still standing' - Alex Doherty reviews Seymour's analysis of the rise of Corbyn
From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
'A small manifesto for black liberation through socialist revolution' - Graham Campbell reviews Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor's 'From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation'
The Fashion Revolution: Turn to the left
Bryony Moore profiles Stitched Up, a non-profit group reimagining the future of fashion
The abolition of Art History A-Level will exacerbate social inequality
This is a massive blow to the rights of ordinary kids to have the same opportunities as their more privileged peers. Danielle Child reports.
Mass civil disobedience in Sudan
A three-day general strike has brought Sudan to a stand still as people mobilise against the government and inequality. Jenny Nelson writes.
Mustang film review: Three fingers to Erdogan
Laura Nicholson reviews Mustang, Deniz Gamze Erguven’s unashamedly feminist film critique of Turkey’s creeping conservatism
What if the workers were in control?
Hilary Wainwright reflects on an attempt by British workers to produce a democratically determined alternative plan for their industry