Did you feel vulnerable?

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Britain snowed in...
The recent snow affected most of us in one way or another. Interestingly, I was running a Permaculture Diploma tutor training event on the outskirts of London when much of it fell. I thought the possibility of being snowed in inside the M25 rather ironic, given how much I avoid going there. Mind you, who better to be stranded with than a lovely bunch of permaculture designers? As it happened we all managed to get home that day, though for some of us it was a long journey.
Such episodes highlight once more the vulnerability of our current system’s dependency upon moving so much food around on a ‘just in time’ basis. It’s encouraging then, that an exciting new project showing one way to improve food security in cities just celebrated its first birthday.
‘Food from the Sky’ is a pioneering food growing and educational project in Crouch End, North London. Food is grown organically on the rooftop of Budgens supermarket there & sold in the store just 8 metres below. Now that’s local food ~ grown within walking distance!
Of course, unused roof space is one thing that urban areas have an abundance of. And as well as providing valuable growing space, up above the worst of the pollution, roof gardens also provide vital food & habitats for wildlife too. Additionally, such projects provide a focus for people to meet up, as community gardens like Tatnam Organic Patch in Poole have been proving for a long time now.

Leadership lessons from dancing guy

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This short but interesting video is at first just funny, but then makes an important point about how quickly movements can gather pace. Important when we are feeling like we are still that lone voice in the wilderness! I’ve been reading about systems theory this week (how systems behave, sometimes in unexpected ways) and this is a fine example of a reinforcing feedback loop. The more that joins the movement, quicker the change occurs. Stay with it, you’ll be amazed at how quickly it all happens at the end. Just substitute the dancing for ‘global environmental sanity’…

We are surrounded by genius…

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Janine Benyus introduces the science of Biomimicry; using nature as our inspiration for creating new technologies. This gives me so much hope for our collective future and fits so beautifully into the permaculture vision.
Spend the next 18 minutes regaining some hope…

The Impossible hamster

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A strange but interesting short video for all economists (and the rest of us participating) to ponder…

Greening the desert 2

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The much awaited follow up to Geoff Lawton’s inspirational five minute flash video posted on You Tube a few years ago…

Cycle-pathic behaviour

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The 'Coventry velodrome'
A friend reminded me this morning of the one humourous book in my otherwise serious permaculture library. It’s the one book I refer course students to when they feel at a point of information overload, to give their minds a bit of a break. It is of course, ‘Crap Cycle Lanes’.
If you believe that our local authorities are spending our money wisely, then a quick flick through this book will convince you otherwise.
The ‘Coventry velodrome’ (shown here) is just one of a whole series of magnificent examples of pointless activity. It left me wondering whether there was some kind of legislation forcing councils to create a certain number of cycle lanes, but of unspecified length. Why else would so many pointless short stretches like this be popping up all over the place? Did someone actually think that examples such as this would make it safer for both cyclists and pedestrians?

The Story of… cap & trade

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If you’re already aware of the excellent short film ‘The Story of Stuff’, you’ll be pleased to hear that Annie Leonard and her team are back with an important message about the Copenhagen agenda…
If you missed ‘The Story of Stuff’ the first time around, you can still see it here.

How to (begin to) repair the world

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Perhaps only one piece of the puzzle, but still nice to see Stephen Fry adding his voice to a nice little video by WeForest… And mentioning the word ‘permaculture’!

We are the World leaders!

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Disappointment
It was perhaps inevitable that our so-called ‘World leaders’ would disappoint us in Copenhagen. Are any of us really surprised? The influence of big business is far too great for our politicians to lead us any more. No, we are the ones this time who are going to have to come to the rescue.
Yes, politicians can make decisions which have far reaching effects in a short time, but let’s face it, it could be a long time before they make them.
We don’t have time to wait!
We however, are always in a position to make different choices. Yes, let our voices be heard, but let’s not waste valuable time banging our heads against the proverbial brick wall, when we could be spending that time making positive changes in our own lives now.
And those changes don’t have to be big; Nature rarely takes big steps. No, evolution is mostly a gradual process, as it’s important for the effects of small changes to be observed before continuing on. Chaos theory suggests that a butterfly fluttering its wings on one side of the world can lead to a storm on the other. Our small personal changes may seem insignificant from where we stand, but the effects of them ripple out into the world, whilst we often remain unaware.
But with so much to do, what should I do first?

Peak potential

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Life can be enjoyed right to the very end...

Having just put another couple of logs on the fire on this chilly night, I am once again reminded of our total reliance upon winter warmth. As I mentioned before, we’ve developed an adapted hibernation strategy to get us through the cold months, but our dependency on fossil fuels of late has made us very vulnerable.
I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy though, & like most permaculture advocates, see a lot of opportunities in this situation for positive change & creative solutions. Permaculture was originally developed in response to the oil crisis of the 1970′s – looking at solutions that didn’t rely upon the availability of such easy energy. Since then our whole way of life has become more & more dependent upon the supply of oil & we are more vulnerable than ever to a reduction in its availability. Just think of all the things that we now take for granted & that rely upon oil in some form or another for its production or transportation.
Permaculture was always about looking beyond oil & as time goes on its solutions become more & more relevant to our lives.
For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of Peak Oil, it puts forward the idea that we have now reached maximum production of oil (so from now on it will become much more difficult & expensive to extract). This would mean that everything using oil in any part of its production will become more expensive too (just about everything we currently spend money on!). Clearly our dependence upon oil has become completely out of control & we urgently need to take different approaches to meeting our needs (& responsibly cutting back on our unnecessary wants).

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