Tuesday, 30 March 2010


What if we began to seriously think about how we could create an economy that leads the world in the post industrial models of eco-economy?
What if we combined new designs and new industry that is totally focused on a circular model where we function as a not for loss way of living, ensuring we optimise but not maximise how we live, keeping ourselves within limits.
The way forward is to begin to relocalise and decentralise our ways of living and do the same with our economy. We have to look again at how we live our lives, how we make sense of power and enable communities to reempower their lives, and enable our communities to learn again how they might become powerful, achieveing new ways of connecting, rebuilding our lives as participatory citizens and powerful learners of our own destinies.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

The Bath Project news....and Grow Sheffield

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of talking and meeting with the good people of Grow Sheffield - many thanks for the lovely emails afterwards you were very kind, I am pleased that you found it useful and keep up the inspiring work!

Speaking of speaking...I was very pleased to find the following from friends in Bath...

Guerrilla Gardeners of Bath – A Call to Spades
— filed under: Community group
A small brigade of guerrilla gardeners has begun work on a patch of abandoned land in a central residential area of Bath. They have cleared the site of dense brambles and have planted fruit trees and bushes with the aim of turning it into a community garden.

Guerrilla gardeners clearing a plot of abandoned land in Bath. Photograph by Liza Sweeting

“It is not our patch,” explains Virginia Williamson who amongst other things, is secretary of the allotments association. “The idea is to find little plots all over Bath that people can grow food on”. The guerrillas hope that this could be the start of a local grassroots food growing revolution.

The Incredible Edible Scheme - Todmorden

The Bath guerrillas were inspired to take action after hearing a talk last year about the ‘Incredible Edible’ scheme set up by guerrilla gardeners in Todmorden, West Yorkshire where, to date, six gardens have been created on patches of public land. Anyone can plant fruit, vegetables or herbs and all are welcome to the harvest. Local activists are aiming to make their town self-sufficient in staples so that within ten years their community will be producing and buying their own fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy.

What is guerrilla gardening?

The term ‘guerrilla gardening’ has been coined in recent times to describe a wide range of usually illicit gardening activities that can be as genteel as planting a cowslip on a neglected verge or as extreme as squatting a plot of abandoned land and growing crops and plants. All around Britain, frustrated urban gardeners are digging up roundabouts, growing food in unused flower beds and office workers are throwing ‘seed bombs’ out of train windows to brighten their daily commute.

The term ‘guerrilla’ conjures up images of heavily armed, beret clad combatants fighting bloody battles to bring down capitalist regimes. The archetypal guerrilla was Che Guevara whose fight was about changing society and about access to land. Less well known, but of immense historical relevance were the Diggers. They could be described as a group of guerrilla gardeners who illegally grew food on common land in response to rising food prices and lack of available land back in 17th century Britain.

For some guerrilla gardeners, their exploits are indeed a form of direct action related to land rights. In fact, Richard Reynolds, author of ‘On Guerrilla Gardening’ and unofficial leader of a growing movement in London, sees it as: “reclaiming land from enemy forces - a battle for resources against scarcity of land, environmental abuse and wasted opportunities”, and as “a fight for freedom of expression and for community cohesion”. As he points out, around 90% of Britons “are squeezed into dense urban areas,” which he feels is both inequitable and unjustifiable.

Guerrilla gardening and local authorities

Unlike Che Guevara, the majority of guerrilla gardeners are not trying to bring down the state but are just expressing frustration with a cumbersome bureaucracy. Although what is interesting is that the exploits of the less extreme are often met with approval from the local authorities.

Growing waiting lists for allotments

Guerrilla gardening, to date, seems to be concentrated in urban areas and is often a response to the lack of available land for residents to grow local food. In Bath, although there are 1047 existing allotment plots, there are 570 people on the waiting list. The council have responded to this demand by halving the existing available plots and are actively looking for other sites to create new allotments. In the meantime, all are welcome to take up spades and trowels and join the guerrilla’s fight to grow food.

The bigger picture

The word ‘guerrilla’ in Spanish means ‘little war’ – one in which combatants make sporadic attacks rather than fighting in large armies. Perhaps the small scale ‘attacks’ undertaken by guerrilla gardeners like those in Bath can have an important role in raising awareness of the issues of land ownership and the right to grow local organic food while the bigger issues of national and international monopolies of agri-business and rural land ownership remain beyond the locus of control or awareness of the man in the street.

Contacts/information: www.guerillagardening.org



Friday, 19 March 2010

First day of Spring

Tomorrow is the first day of Spring, the Vernal Equinox when daylight is the same as night time. I didn't know that until today, but I think the birds have realised as they are NOISY!!!!
Anyway, happy Springtime to you all, it is a wonderful season, full of promise and hope.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

full draft

I have a full first draft of the book which is a big file and too much to post but if anyone wants a look then email me and I will send it on to you.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

10 Things You Can Do To Help Save The Bees

10 Things You Can Do To Help
Save The Bees
Bees are in trouble, and it is mostly because of us. We have destroyed much of their
natural habitat, we have poisoned their food and in the case of honeybees, we have
used and abused them for our own purposes while not giving enough attention to their
needs and welfare.
Honeybees have been evolving for a very long time – the fossil record goes back at least
100 million years – and they became remarkably successful due to their adaptability to
different climates, varied flora and their tolerance of many shapes and sizes of living
accommodation. They became attractive to humans because of their unique ability to
produce useful things, apparently out of thin air: honey, wax and propolis.
Until the nineteenth century, they were kept in pots, skeps, baskets and a variety of
wooden boxes intended more-or-less to imitate their natural habitat of choice, the
hollow tree. With the invention of the 'movable frame' hive, the second half of that
century saw an exponential growth in commercial-scale beekeeping, and by the time
motor vehicles became widely available, beekeeping on a widespread and industrial
scale became a practical possibility.
Since then, bees have been treated in rather the same way as battery hens: routinely
dosed with antibiotics and miticides in an effort to keep them producing, despite the
growing problems of diseases and parasites and insecticide-treated plants that have led
to the emergence of so-called 'Colony Collapse Disorder', especially in the massive beefarming
operations in the USA.
It doesn't have to be like this. Some beekeepers have realized that, if bees are to
become healthy enough to develop resistance to disease and the ability to adapt to
pests, then they have to be treated differently – and not just by beekeepers.
Here are some things you can do to help the bees:
1. Stop using insecticides - especially for 'cosmetic' gardening.
There are better ways of dealing with pests - especially biological controls. Modern
pesticides are extremely powerful and many are long-lasting and very toxic to bees and
other insects. Removing all unnecessary pesticides from the environment is probably
the single most important thing we can do to help save the bees.
2. Avoid seeds coated with systemic insecticides.
Beware - many farm seeds are now coated with Clothianidin and related systemic
insecticides, which cause the entire plant to become toxic to bees and all other insects
that may feed on it. The same coatings may soon appear on garden seeds. Check your
seed packets carefully - and if in doubt, ask the manufacturer for full information.
3. Read the labels on garden compost - beware hidden killers!
Some garden and potting composts are on sale that contain Imidacloprid - a deadly
insecticide manufactured by Bayer. It is often disguised as 'vine weevil protection' or
similar, but it is highly toxic to all insects and all soil life, including beneficial

Monday, 1 March 2010


Creating buildings that generate 100% of the energy they consume is beginning to be seen as realistic. In fifteen years, it will certainly be an accepted part of a normal reality...It is essential to create structures to manage networks…We are talking about functional structure. Our aim is to work in a network. Guallart, V. (2009) Sociopolis.

We all breathe the same air, we drink from the planetary water sources, we are all fed from the same land. We all depend upon the stability of the natural ecosystems that we are part of, and we are all an important part of the living earth. We are, in effect completely interdependent with our world, we are connected. But each of these nodes of connection are under serious threat. We have, in modern times, come to a form of society which seems to have the idea that the more we consume, the better our lives will become. Consumerism is our principal habit, out zeitgeist and our ideology rolled into one. But it comes at a huge cost. Every act of consumerism threatens the very ecosystems upon which we depend for survival. We are at a point where there are reported stresses in almost all of the important drivers of our consumer world. We operate vast, industrial scale agribusiness in a way that has created enormous problems with soil composition leading to desertification; we have destroyed vast forests in our need for wood and mineral deposits. Reports suggest that our supplies of oil have peaked, and yet our daily energy needs continue to function as if this resource were infinite. We have in some parts of the world, pumped so much water from the aquifers that there is none left to irrigate the soil (Brown 2009), and we are witnessing the legacy of the industrial revolution starting to effect the very atmosphere upon which we depend.
Our transition from pre-industrial to industrial activity was, in the span of time, a short moment of a couple of hundred years. We are now at the peak of the pinnacle of that industrial heritage, and from that pinnacle we face choices. We may choose to do nothing, and continue upon a pathway for a little longer fixed to the technological solution, but this ultimately is the same industrial mind at work which has put us into the crisis situation we face. We may choose to explore a new way forward, a marriage of nature and spirit which puts us on a trajectory that is more benign, as William Wordsworth described a wedding between human mind and ‘this goodly universe.’
To get there I have suggested that we need to learn new capabilities, but these capabilities are nothing new, they are simply hidden, behind the façade of modern living. If we scratch the surface, we discover that the connection, between ourselves and our world, is intact, it was just hidden form our attention as we are dazzled by the glamour and glitz of our own making. We can reawaken this knowledge and skill and understanding of what it is to be of this place, we just have to observe, and respond by reconnecting.