• How then shall we live in this world of (climate) change?

    (This is my latest article, co-written with Dr Richard Hil from The Activist Think Tank – Ngara Institute, and first published in the Echo Publications) The intersecting crises of anthropogenic climate change and destruction to biodiversity and ecological systems have ushered in an age of acute anxiety in which people are beginning to seriously question whether life on Earth, in its current form, can be sustained. There’s an increasing sense that the planet and everything on it are in serious trouble. So, here we are, having to face up to a significant body of credible scientific knowledge that suggests some kind of end, or at least a radical reconfiguration of life as we…

  • Exploring the non-stereotypical Bolivia

    A journey into the jungle, development projects, stunning art, permaculture and community… Jean and his colleagues were flying to Santa Cruz to then continue in the Chiquitania region – visiting their projects, meeting volunteers, partners and government officials to discuss their work. I was kindly invited to accompany them and was grateful for  the opportunity to see another part of Bolivia, experience rural areas and to be in the tropics again. Nothing feels more like ‘home’ to me than the warmth and humidity on my skin. We flew to Santa Cruz where the city surprised me. I felt like I was in a different country. In contrast to La Paz…

  • Talking rubbish – Turning trash into treasure

    Here at Bustan Qaraaqa they don’t simply sort their recycling, compost their vegetable scraps and put out the rubbish to be collected weekly – they take REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE to a whole new level. With no municipal waste management in Palestine, they have adopted a policy of ‘what comes on site, stays on site’, often collecting other peoples waste too! Using permaculture, creativity, knowledge and passion they educate and demonstrate by living sustainably themselves and maintaining a philosophy that there is no such thing as waste – just a failure of imagination. They hope to inspire Palestinians to stop throwing their rubbish down hillsides or burning it on the side of the…

  • Week 9 – Eco-building in the Pyrenees, Hosting a project and community living

    Over the 5 weeks spent with Pierre I observed how he managed us helpers, his projects, his family life and himself.  I imagine the whole process could be quite physically and emotionally rewarding but also draining – dealing with various people from all walks of life, interrupting your routine, sharing your space, managing the build, training, supervising, etc.   As mentioned in a previous post, community living often seems harder than the project or building itself. So, this week’s post is from Pierre’s perspective. We’ve asked him some questions which he has kindly answered for us.   How many helpers have you had? So far, to the present day, which is…

  • Week 5 – Cob camp hits the road to learn eco-building in the Pyrenees

    Cobbing The beginning of week 5 was all about mixing and building cob since the roof was up and stable. There is so much to learn about cob that you can only truly understand through tactile experience.  You need to feel the critical proportion of clay to sand to ensure a plastic, cohesive, workable mix that won’t shrink and crack too much.  Depending on the coarseness of the sand and quality of the clay (and other components in the soil) the final mix should be between 5% and 25% clay.  By observing the soil composition from a soil test (seeing it settle in a jar with water) you can estimate proportions. But,…

  • Week 3 at Cob Camp – Community Matters

    Most people want deeper links to a community as modern society is individualistic, insecure and fractured. Many don’t know where to start to lead different lives and those of us who do, seem to grapple with making ‘community’ work. How do we live co-operatively, thoughtfully and simply with each other whilst conserving natural resources, sharing responsibility for work and providing meaningful, dignified and safe work – including successful projects? All of us on this course are from Western societies where we’ve been encouraged to be highly individualistic. Given we need to learn new skills for living together with others (especially giving up personal space) this group has done remarkably well…

  • Week 1 at Cob Camp – Eco Building and Community Living

    I just arrived at La Creuse, a region in the middle of France, in order to participate to the building of a cob house organised by AM Rustic with other volunteers. Jean on his side, went to Central America for few weeks, in order to do a consultancy with a British humanitarian organisation. I understood from the first day on the cob building course that this wasn’t really a structured course but a gathering of people with a shared interest in natural building coming together to live, work, learn and share their diverse experiences and skills.  Anita and Martin had ditched the ‘Day 1 – Designing your Cob House’ for…

  • Researching Permaculture in London

    Well, we arrived in London and immediately started researching local farmers markets so we could continue avoiding supermarkets.  That turned out to be relatively easy thanks to London Farmers’ Market – all food and products are grown and produced within 100 miles of London. Some produce is organic, which is my preference when purchasing.  This is a great way to meet local farmers but I wanted to find out more – so, this post is simply about sharing some of the Permaculture groups, initiatives and sites in London (UK) that I’ve been researching. We are currently living in Zone 2 in West London and I have found it a challenge since…

  • Top 10 eye-opening ecological documentaries – and how to watch them easily

    Images often speak better than words. Part of this blog’s aim is to contribute in raising readers’ awareness to certain issues and offer some ideas to deal constructively with them. True to this aim, we present to you today a selection of ecological documentaries that we consider as must-see. Indeed, if they are daunting, they are also eye-opening, inspirational and serve as helpful triggers for change. We assume that you’ve already watched the awards-winning An Inconvenient Truth, so we haven’t included it here. Do watch it (here) if you haven’t yet though… To encourage you watching these 10 documentaries, we’ve also added links or given hints on how to access them easily. So…

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