Saturday, February 25, 2012

Good news at Lammas re building control

from the Lammas newsletter:
It seems that there may be a solution emerging in the stand-off between Tir-Y-Gafel residents and Pembrokeshire County Council Building Control department.
Following much work from both sides, on Monday 23rd January at Haverfordwest Magistrates Court the Council agreed that Paul and Hoppi Wimbush (of plot 6) were now fully compliant with Building Regulations and all charges against them were dropped.
Schedules of works for the other two plots with legal charges against them (Simon Dale and Jasmine Saville of plot 7, Katy Taggart and Leander Wolstenholme of plot 2) have been agreed and should residents adhere to the timescales (aiming for resolution of all outstanding issues by May 2012) then the Council has indicated that charges against these two families will also be dropped.
It was recognised in Court by the Council that the Lammas project is pioneering new ground and that special consideration was required in how Building Regulations were applied to low-impact development given the use of raw natural materials and innovative solutions being adopted by such projects.
Great! common sense at last...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Gentle Revolution

"Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong." (Lao Tzu)
Amidst all the trouble and turmoil in the world, there's a gentle revolution that’s been growing for a long time.  I guess it’s a personal individual revolution for all involved, for me it’s about:
Respect for all life and all things.
Developing our intuition, thinking for ourselves and making our individual choices inspired by a global understanding – no more “us and them”, just “us”.
Going against the flow, peacefully: giving as little energy as possible to all the top-down power structures we have allowed:  the corporatocracy, the religions and all those authorities who tell us what to do, to think, to buy... The only sensible progress is going to be made from the roots up. 
Earth profit, does the Earth profit in anyway from having us humans around?
Frugality – there’s an extraordinary period ahead as we move into a world of less and less abundant and more expensive energy and materials. The more frugal we are the more resilient we will be and the easier it will be to recreate local abundance and share our Earth’s resources fairly.
Access to land – you don’t have to own it! Farmers and growers, particularly those operating on a small scale, really need your help and you can share in the harvest. Or do some guerrilla gardening on your local waste land.
Quality – and another thing... here comes a rant... I’m so fed up of the general poor quality of the stuff people are conned into buying, eg furniture that is made so shoddily out of such poor materials that it can barely hold together long enough to be taken to the skip. I fixed up a chest of drawers yesterday that was probably made fifty years ago and is now good for another fifty – how much of that chipboard and MDF rubbish will last that long? It just isn’t repairable or fit for its purpose, in fact its just crap.
Open mindedness – looking for the potentially positive in unexpected places – I’m surprised at how dismissive some people are of some of the phenomena I’ve experienced myself, energy work such as homeopathy, distant healing, working with the body’s energy, chi kung and so on. Our understanding of the world is continually developing, nothing is fixed, yesterday’s magic is tomorrow’s technology.
Working together effectively involves a deep inner journey towards a deeper understanding of ourselves and how we relate with others, understanding the influences that shape our lives, family life, astrological influences. If you have the opportunity to do any inner work, like CranioSacral Therapy, Hypnotherapy, Shamanic work - grab it and grow.I've seen enough projects flounder because of clashing personalities.
And don't forget to have fun!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I’ve realised recently what good advice my intuition has been giving me all my life, a shame I haven’t listened to it very often. It’s as if there’s been two forces acting on me, the pressure to conform to expectations and the status quo’s definitions of success, worthwhile ways to spend your time, the world of competition, materialism and consumerism – the other force is that inner voice gently insisting that all that stuff is bollocks. Now I’m wondering if intuition and the development of a global awareness go hand in hand. I have a vision of a world where we have an intuitive insight into what’s going on for everyone in the world and for all forms of life and make our own decisions about what to do with our time based on that global understanding.
If you feel something similar why not join in with the Thursday Group this evening.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Way of the WWOOF

If you want to explore the eco world, volunteering is an excellent starting point. I don't know of a better way of getting to know people than working with them. It's easy to get going, the best known eco volunteering organisation probably being the excellent WWOOFing network, (used to be Willing Workers On Organic Farms now Worldwide Opportunities On Organic Farms), with over 500 active hosts in the UK and a worldwide network beyond that. It's a long established organisation and works well. The deal is that you help the hosts, typically on a small farm doing organic and other interesting stuff in return for your board and lodging. You meet some very interesting people and can experience varying degrees of low-impact living. It's good to have a useful skill or two to offer, obviously experience with plants is useful but your hosts may be glad of other skills as well. I always end up doing woodwork on projects and often give therapy treatments for sore backs etc.

Student volunteers working on Nigel and Cassie's roundhouse at Lammas, 2009

Lammas again, fresh air washing up - the plate rack was blown away later...

Nigel and Cassie's roundhouse looking good two years later
I'm very interested in how people can learn to cooperate and in alternatives to the harsh unreality of growth at all costs economics, so have been very interested to visit and work at various communities and cooperative ventures. If that interests you too, the Diggers and Dreamers site is a good way in to this world, it's how I found Chickenshack and went on to work with Steve Jones of Sector39 fame. Having also visited the Crab Apple Community at Berrington Hall and the community at Canon Frome Court I have to say I admire what all those people are doing but it's not for me! mainly because of the lengthy meetings of the decision making process. I struggle to stay focused on what people are saying for any length of time being much more of a practical person. (The decision making process is different here at Treflach - more about that in another post soon).
One of the most interesting places I've worked at is the Lammas Eco Community - it was also the most challenging! I arrived there, over two years ago now, just at the beginning of three weeks of very wet and windy weather. Back then it was really hard core, a sort of cross between a building site, a refugee camp and a failed squat, all flapping tarpaulins, mud and cold. I almost turned tail and headed off that first night, I'm really glad I stayed though, it was great experience for low-impact building of roundhouses etc. and I have some great memories, like reading stories to Nigel and Cassie's kids by the light of a wind up torch and a candle inside a yurt swaying from side to side in a storm. Volunteers have put in a huge amount of energy into this wonderful project and made an important contribution for which the Lammas residents are always very grateful, as are all the other hosts I've worked with.
So if you have the time and are interested why not treat yourself to a volunteering adventure this year!
A chance to visit beautiful places too, Ben Lawers from Tombreck on Loch Tay, Perthshire