To Think or... Not to Think?
Sandy C. Newbigging shares why he feels that is the ‘enlightening’ question
Hemp: The Miracle Plant
A super hero which boasts both healing qualities and versatility
Unbake a Tasty Cake!
Victoria Leith keeps us sweet with a selection of her tantalising raw sensations
The plastic bottled water industry is costing us the Earth – changing our habits could steer us to a brighter future
Issue No. 16 Spring 2013
Pg 14 Caramelia Chocolate Mousse Cake
Unit 19, The Coach House 2 Upper York Street Bristol BS2 8QN 0117 924 0901 www.inspiredtimesmagazine.com
FEATURES 4 To Think or... Not to Think?
Sandy C. Newbigging shares why he feels that is the ‘enlightening’ question.
4 Enriching the Soul Magazine Coordinator/Editor: Sharon Henshall Sub-Editor: Rebecca Day Production Editor: Sharon Henshall Cover Image: Becky Cooke Artworker: Heather Murphy
10 Hemp: The Miracle Plant
Emma Feloy delves into the stories behind a couple of inspiring women. Debra Westlake co-founded a nursery school in Peru over 25 years ago. And, Sally-Ann Spence encourages our younger generation to connect with nature by bringing exotic creepy crawlies into the classroom.
Emily Shields has some hands-on healing with Craniosacral Therapy and Hannah Stuart-Leach joins a yoga challenge.
email@example.com No part of this magazine can be reproduced without consent. All rights reserved. No responsibility will be accepted for errors or omissions, or comments made by writers or interviewees.
© Inspired Times
Victoria Leith keeps us sweet with some of her tantalising raw sensations.
22 Free Flow
The plastic bottled water industry is costing the Earth. Alex Saunders floods us with facts and steers us towards the alternatives.
From the new eco-build phenomenon thePOOSH.org to camping with a conscience, Toby Cryne highlights some alternative green breaks.
Rebecca Day explores the world of the Woodcraft Folk and shows how Ecomodo has created an online community to share some of our prized possessions.
20 Exciting Events 2013
The festival season is upon us and Sarah Griffiths is hitting the fields to discover a quirky line-up. Vegfest Bristol, Starry Skies Festival, Cornwall Circus Camp and Gaunts Summer Gathering are all leading the way...
26 Green Goodies Gift Guide
9 Have Your Say
16 Inspiring Getaways
14 Un-bake a Tasty Cake!
Editor, Sharon Henshall welcomes you to our spring edition of Inspired Times.
8 Inspiring Tales
Advertising: Sharon Henshall
Emma Parkinson and Tim Barford share their knowledge on this super hero which boasts both healing qualities and versatility.
Sunita Passi meets Julie Dent, proprietor of the Clover Retreat, who reveals how synchronicity has affected her life and career.
Contributors: Sandy C. Newbigging/Victoria Leith Sunita Passi/Julie Dent Emma Parkinson/Tim Barford Rebecca Day/Toby Cryne Alex Saunders/Benjamin Salt Emma Feloy/Chris Hughes Sarah Griffiths/Stephanie Croft Emily Shields/Hannah Stuart-Leach
Step out of your comfort zone and immerse yourself in some soul searching, personal growth and inner nourishment.
12 Meaningful Coincidences
Creative expression in all its wondrous forms! Chris Hughes shares his passion for music, tattoos and scientific minds.
Some fabulous spring gift ideas for the eco-minded... all under £25!
Stephanie Croft keeps us up-to-date with the latest eco-news and shines the light on Bhutan’s organic pledge.
28 Inspiring Individuals
With energy bills soaring, Benjamin Salt speaks with off-grid pioneer Nick Rosen, who shares his story. His passion is to now help others make the shift to a greener future.
inspired times issue 16 spring 2013
spreading the spirit of inspired times This issue of Inspired Times has become known as the ‘miracle mag’; during the two weeks prior to deadline, I encountered a hard-hitting flu bug. As per usual my team stepped it up and even worked from my home to ensure there was no need for me to step out into the bitter cold. A huge thanks to all of you lovely people who care about me, as well as the magazine! Our spring front cover is a stunner. I have a different artist for each year (four issues) and this is Becky Cooke’s final submission. Weaving each season within the core structure of beautiful geometric shapes has created a unique set of eye-catching covers. And, once you step inside this edition, we hope the array of feature articles and inspiring tales will capture your attention. Sandy C. Newbigging shares his wisdom and gives tips on how to iron out the creases of our minds. Emma Parkinson and Tim Barford shine the light on hemp, the miracle plant. Victoria Leith keeps us sweet with some raw treats – they look delicious and are sure to tingle your taste-buds! Alex Saunders has also written a cracking piece about the bottled water industry’s impact on our planet. He floods us with some shocking facts, highlighting the extent of this problem and then speaks with those who are working tirelessly to change
our water drinking habits. Please do your bit by investing in a good reusable bottle and topping up at the refilling stations available around the country. It seems that although many of us have stopped using plastic bags, we still need to address our attitudes around purchasing bottled water when out and about. Despite a (prolonged) bitterly cold introduction to the first part of this year, the 2013 festival season is just a step away. Let’s hope we’ll be blessed with a bucket load of sunny days to come. Uncover some unique events in our festival section and see what takes your fancy. This year, will we all be wearing flip-flops in the fields... or wellies? Whatever the footwear, we wish you showers of unexpected delights and joy this spring. Enjoy the read and please do share this issue with your friends and family.
(Magazine Coordinator/Editor) firstname.lastname@example.org
Sandy C. Newbigging
Sandy C. Newbigging is the creator of the Mind Detox Method (MDM) and Mind Calm Meditation (MCM). An award-winning trainer and speaker, Sandy has written no.1 best selling books including THUNK! and HEAL THE HIDDEN CAUSE.
Caramelia Cakery (The Raw Un-Bakery) was inspired by Victoria Leith’s newfound love of raw food. Influenced by food guru friend Shazzie, Victoria became determined to emulate her divine chocolate torte made entirely from plantbased ingredients. She worked through different recipes, with her young daughter as the official cake taster, until she mastered the art of raw food ‘un-baking’. Victoria’s friends and family began contacting
Connecting with people through his writing and as a television personality, Sandy’s aim in life is to share ancient wisdom with modern audiences in an accessible and reasoned way. He runs clinics, courses and residential retreats that take a mindbody-soul approach to health, peace of mind, happiness and life success. When training to become a meditation teacher he meditated day and night for 24 weeks at retreats in Greece
and Mexico. During that time he explored the nature of the mind and stabilised his experience by resting in the silent inner peace that he embraced. This enables him to teach from a very pure place and speak from his firsthand experience.
her non-stop for cakes and under popular demand, Caramelia Cakery was born. After a friend passed away, Victoria was asked to make a raw vegan cake in her honour. Now she makes Honour Cakes to pay tribute to the passing of loved ones and to celebrate love and life. Her Cake of Wonderment, Red Velvet Crunch Cake and Cherry Berry Cake are all taste sensations, ordered for a wide mix of occasions. Victoria’s recently published book, Caramelia Cakery: The Raw Un-Bakery, teems with cake recipes that tantalise the taste buds and also caters for food allergies and diets.
Sandy’s article on Meditation for Inspired Times gives our readers a real taste of what he has to offer.
In this issue of Inspired Times. Victoria shares some of her delicious raw recipes.
inspired times issue 16 spring 2013
to think or...
that is the enligh
In this busy world, our minds can sometimes become overworked and overwhelmed. Sandy C. Newbigging shares his insights on how to be more present in our lives... choosing ultimate inner peace.
Let’s get something clear from the start. I’m not saying your mind is bad and you should never think again. Your mind is a remarkable tool that you can use to create marvellous things. However, what’s become very apparent to me is that most people I meet don’t know how to not think. And that certainly is a problem. Thinking too much is very stressful, leads to ill-health, inhibits creativity, postpones your peace, limits your love, and, perhaps most importantly, prevents you from knowing the unbounded brilliance of your real self.
and stress and is the main reason why you are not experiencing the peace and productivity that you are inherently capable of. If you are being THUNK then you are unwittingly giving the content of your thoughts the unwarranted power to negatively impact your moods, health, relationships, peace and prosperity. Worst of all, it is an utterly unnecessary problem because re-addressing your relationship with your mind is possible for everyone I have met.
You are not alone if you find it hard to not think!
People think all the time because they don’t know of a better way to relate to their mind.
Most people I meet from around the world at my clinics, courses and retreats find it near impossible to stop their minds from working overtime. They think all day long, and some of them even think their way through the night too. Unable to reduce the deluge of thoughts occurring, their unhealthy habit of thinking has become insistent, uncontrollable and intense.
Prior to learning about the benefits of not thinking, I focused my personal-development efforts on changing my negative thoughts and emotions. Despite great efforts to improve the content of my mind, I found that I still got stressed and my moods continued to go up and down. Why? Because I had not solved the underlying cause of my problems: namely, my habit of thinking.
Mind mastery is attained when you can use your mind instead of your mind using you.
Are You Being Thunk? If you cannot switch off and stop thinking at will, then your relationship with your mind has become unbalanced and unproductive. Rather than you using your mind as the magnificent tool that it is, and then putting it down when you’re done, your mind is quite literally using you! I would suggest that the result of this incessant thinking is that you aren’t actually thinking any more, but instead, you are being thunk! Thunking occurs when you cannot stop engaging in and reacting to the train of thoughts passing through your mind. Being THUNK is one of the biggest problems on the planet today. It is a hidden cause of conflict, suffering
4 inspired times issue 16 spring 2013
The Hidden Barrier To Experiencing Life Life is happening now. It truly is. However, you can end up missing it if you are in your head thinking. This is because although life exists now, your mind only exists by thinking about the past and future. Thinking acts as an invisible barrier that stands between you and the present moment, between you and the experience of peace. I say “invisible” because most people aren’t aware of the impact thinking has on their peace. Thinking makes you numb to fully experiencing life because your mind is always one step removed from any given experience. The mind cannot experience the present moment; it can only think about the present moment. Similarly, the mind cannot experience peace, it can only think about peace. So as long as you continue to be in your mind thinking, true inner peace will remain out of reach.
not to think?
EXERCISE – 3C Vision: USING YOUR EYES FOR A CHANGE In my book, THUNK! and during my one-day Mind Calm classes, I share a range of techniques for thinking less. One of my personal favourites is ‘3C Vision’. Believe it or not, by using your eyes in a certain way, you can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which quietens the mind and can help you to begin to notice the inner peace that is always present. In fact, I would go as far as to suggest that it is very hard to think while engaging 3C vision! But don’t take my word for it – try it now.
Instructions: 1. Pick a spot on a wall to look at, ideally above eye level at about a 45 degree angle, so that as you look at it, it feels as though your vision is bumping up against your eyebrows.
vision will begin to spread out. You will begin to see more in the peripheral than in the central part of your vision. 4. Now, pay more attention to the peripheral part of your vision than to the central part of your vision. Notice colours, shadows, shapes and so on. Notice what you see on the left and right, above and below. Keep using your peripheral vision – don’t look directly at anything. 5. Continue for as long as you want while noticing how it feels. Notice if your mind has become more still. With a little practice you will be able to use 3C vision as you go about your day – when reading, out walking, chatting with people, pretty much any time you want to stop thinking and feel calm, confident and content.
To Think Or Not To Think? 2. As you stare at the spot on the wall, effortlessly let your mind go loose and focus all of your attention on the spot. At this point you may find yourself wanting to take a deep breath in and out. Let yourself do so. 3. Notice that within a matter of a few moments, your
Being present and being peaceful are one and the same. You cannot experience one without the other. Knowing this makes experiencing peace supremely simple and brilliantly clear-cut: You are either in the moment experiencing peace or you’re in your head thinking about peace. The choice can be yours!
You can learn to meditate with Sandy C. Newbigging at one of his Mind Calm 1-day classes or train as a Mind Calm Coach. Visit www.minddetoxacademy.com for info. Sandy’s no.1 best selling book THUNK! is available via Amazon.
inspired times issue 16 spring 2013 5
u a t i r i p s y t i l a u t i r i p lity s a u t i r i sp t u i r i p y s y t t i l i a l u t i r i a p u ality s spirit
l a u t spiri
u t i r i ity sp
enriching the soul Immersing ourselves in the surrounds of a retreat or workshop can sometimes help liberate the creativity, wisdom and peace which lies within. Step out of our comfort zones and enrich the soul...
Name: Mooji Name: Thich Nhat Hanh Background: The English pronunciation is: Tik · N’yat · Hawn. This Vietnamese Buddhist monk is also a Zen master, poet and a peace and human rights activist. He is fondly known by his followers as Thây (meaning ‘teacher’). Born in central Vietnam in 1926, Thây has lead an extraordinary life. He is dedicated to the work of inner transformation for the benefit of individuals and society.
Background: Born in Jamaica, he then moved to the UK in 1969 and lived in Brixton, London. Mooji is a direct disciple of Sri Harilal Poonja, the renowned advaita master, or Papaji, as his followers call him. Since 1999, Mooji has been sharing satsang in the form of spontaneous encounters, retreats, satsang intensives and one-to-one meetings with the many seekers who visit him, from all parts of the world, in search of the direct experience of truth.
Type: Retreats - varying lengths of time.
Type: Satsangs, Silent Retreats and Intensives.
Where: Mainly Plum Village which is about 85km east of
Bordeaux (the closest airport). Also has some worldwide tours.
Where: Satsangs and Silent Retreats are mainly in Portugal with Intensives in London and other worldwide locations.
When: 21st April – 28th April: Health Retreat
When: 8th – 15th May (Portugal)
6th July – 3rd August: Summer Opening Retreat
What to expect: Whether on the silent retreat or
What to expect:
at an two-day Intensive, Mooji’s satsangs are at the centre of each gathering. The literal translation of satsang is ‘an assembly of persons who listen to, talk about, and assimilate the truth’. Mooji welcomes those attending to come forward and ask him their burning questions about Self-Realisation. Usually Mooji offers two satsangs per day and during the silent retreats there is contemplation time and some guided meditations. He doesn’t describe himself as a guru or spiritual teacher but prefers to just share his experience with those who have a genuine interest in seeking the truth for themselves.
Plum Village is a Buddhist monastery for monks and nuns and a mindfulness practice center for lay people. The Health Retreat aims to help you find self-confidence in times of crisis. The Summer Opening Retreat focuses on simple and peaceful living as well as inner growth. Mindfulness training requires a stay of minimum one week. Plum Village is home to a community of Zen Buddhists who are there year round. Living side-by-side with long-term residents adds a richness to the whole experience. Many people return year after year to absorb the wisdom of Thây’s home
When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” Rumi 6
inspired times issue 16 spring 2013
ality spiritu a
uality s p i r i t u
s p i r i t u a l ity
a l ity sp spiritua irituality lity spiritualit
Name: Tim Freke
s p ir it u a lity
Background: Tim is a recognised British author, scholar and internationally respected authority on world spirituality, offers an existential outlook to spiritual enlightenment and the wonderment of the mystery of existence. A selfproclaimed stand-up philosopher, Tim teaches a new language of awakening, offering a life-transforming experience like no other. A process he simply refers to as the Mystery Experience.
Background: As the creative catalyst behind dance super-group Faithless and the award-winning multi-media project ‘1 Giant Leap’ Jamie now brings his insight and expertise to helping people transform and connect with their innate wholeness.
Type: Mystery Experience weekend retreats.
Type: Weekend workshops, talks and mentoring
Where: Mainly Glastonbury but also worldwide venues
Where: Mainly Bristol & London
When: 31st July – 4th August (Glastonbury)
When: 20th – 21st April (Bristol) + 27th – 28th April (London)
What to expect: So what is the Mystery
What to expect: Jamie offers his unique insight
Name: Jamie Catto
Experience? Expanding on his book The Mystery Experience, Tim presents a new way to connect to the spiritual self. Long-time spiritual explorers and casual enthusiasts alike are invited to experience the “mystery” for themselves. Playful, fun and intimate, you will have the opportunity to be guided personally by Tim to achieve this new “deep awake” state. Embrace a new profound experience and leave feeling reinvigorated and ready for life.
and expertise through a series of workshops designed to empower, inspire and unleash the raw creativity to the forefront of your being. Transforming Shadows challenges you to face the ‘demons’ of your vulnerability; to confront the shadows of insecurity and reveal your true authentic self. In a blend humour, imagination and philosophical sincerity, Jamie helps to spark personal breakthroughs and stimulate dormant creativity that bubbles just beneath the surface – all in a fun and inventive way.
Name: Stephen Russell AKA the Barefoot Doctor
Background: As a Taoist
practitioner, author, healer and teacher, the Barefoot Doctor engages students in the ways of Tao. He is also a doctor of Chinese medicine and has been an avid student of philosophy, belief systems, spirituality and human potential, clocking up over 40 years of experience.
Type: Talks, workshops, retreats, courses and ‘conscious’ electronic dance music events.
Where: Various venues in the UK, Ibiza, Italy & Turkey. When: 25th May: Mind Body Spirit London Festival - 6-8pm 1st – 8th June: Barefoot in Italy 15th – 23rd June: Sound Healing Retreat (Turkey)
What to expect: Be led through a journey of opening,
healing and loving. Learn Barefoot’s most powerful Taoist exercises and reconnect wth yourself. The experience instigates a deep relaxaton and brings you ‘in touch’ with your instinct, your power and your chi. You will acquire tools that allow you to be centred and calm no matter what is going in your life.
“He who knows others is learned; He who knows himself is wise.” Lao-tzu, Tao te Ching inspired times issue 16 spring 2013
inspiring tales by Emma Feloy
big changes to little people’s lives... Back in 1985, not long out of university, Debra and her friend Sally travelled to Peru. Exploring the deprived shanty towns of Lima, they noticed that many young children were understimulated and bored. With no childcare available and both parents working, mothers had no choice but to leave them with older siblings or place them on the floor behind their bustling market stalls. Debra’s knowledge of childhood development, gained through a Speech & Language Therapy background, highlighted the crucial needs of these young children. “If you miss this precious window of opportunity then learning is much harder in primary and beyond,” explains Debra. Gathering just a few discarded toys, the two young women set up a small school in a rundown yard. With that spontaneous act they shouldered a responsibility that would link them to these impoverished communities long after they had left. “We could not simply go home and forget about them,” says Debra. “We had to make a difference.” Almost thirty years on, the Westnell Nursery Schools (of which
there are now two) www.westnell.info – have developed and expanded over the years, becoming thriving hubs for the local community. First, Debra and Sally employed a qualified local teacher who would continue to run the school. Then, on their return to the UK, they set about raising funds for her wages, initially from friends and family. “We didn’t really have any vision – everything seemed to just happen organically after that and support just fell into place.” From these humble beginnings has sprung a place where children are given a boost at the most important stage of their development. Israel Calle, a young boy whose father is an odd-job man in the shanty town, recently competed for and won a scholarship to study at private primary and secondary schools. He came top in his year last year, a testament to the good start he received at Westnell. And, not only do the children benefit; the schools hosts educational workshops for parents and provides employment for local people.
Some of these workers are ex-pupils – Yanina, one of Debra’s first students, is now a qualified teacher there. These success stories have helped maintain momentum for Debra and the other trustees during the years of juggling fundraising efforts while changing jobs, bringing up children and moving countries. Conscious of the continuing hard work that goes into this incredibly successful project, Debra also celebrates what it has given her back. She details how she has learnt Spanish and been inspired to undertake a Masters in Latin American Studies, as well as the skills that she has learnt from administering a charity. “Working for Westnell is like breathing for me,” she says, “it forms the backdrop to my life.” With plans afoot to open further nurseries in emerging impoverished towns, Debra’s commitment to respond to the needs of these communities is unfailingly positive.
engaging school children with a technicolour world of creepy crawlies Bright kaleidoscopic colours, shiny lacquered shells, roaming antennae… the lives of bugs hold many surprises! Sally-Ann Spence believes that allowing children a glimpse into this world of exotic creepy crawlies will entice them away from their computer games and out into nature. “How can we expect the next generation to appreciate, feel an affinity with and want to protect something that they have had little or no contact with?” she asks. For Sally-Ann this is an alien concept; growing up on a farm, working in a wildlife conservation and again living on a farm with her family, she has always been surrounded by nature. She is now using her outreach
education enterprise, Minibeast Mayhem – www.minibeastmayhem.com – to fill children with wonder at the natural world. Enthusiasm personified, Sally-Ann bubbles over with passion as she explains her own fascination with nature and, specifically, the minibeast world. “The enormity of the fact that without them we would cease to exist, is mind blowing,” she states, before reeling off reasons why we should applaud, rather than revile, bugs: “They recycle organic matter, maintain soil fertility, purify water, provide food for food chains and directly for us,” lists Sally-Ann. “They pollinate, produce materials, are used in medicines and dyes, act as bio controls and even the chalk rock beneath my feet is made from the fossilised exoskeletons of billions of prehistoric marine invertebrates!” When asked by a teacher friend to give a talk to her class of primary school children, Sally-Ann jumped at the chance to combine her love of entomology (study of bugs to me
inspired times issue 16 spring 2013
and you!) with her obvious ability to enthuse and interest people. The idea grew from there and she now uses her roadshow and workshops to bring the outdoors indoors, presenting her substantial knowledge in a way that will engage children. She shares the bombardier beetle’s ability to make explosions, how silk is made of caterpillar spit, and how termites design air-conditioning... all in the hope of inspiring “tomorrow’s scientists”. Already expanding into natural history and farming workshops, and continually ‘tweaking’ her current ideas, Sally-Ann now hopes to reach out to older age groups, specifically teenagers. “Innovative young people are the voice that will be heard,” she exclaims, clearly passionate about educating our next generation. Talking to Sally-Ann you feel inspired to get up, immerse yourself in the natural world and act to protect it. “I love our countryside and I am passionate about nature,” she declares. “Now I can do something practical and positive to secure its future.”
If there is anything you’d like to tell us about; thoughts on life, fun events, hobbies etc., please email us: email@example.com
A year of back pain left me feeling restless. Following endless treatments, I came across Craniosacral Therapy, a path that undoubtedly helped me physically and emotionally. Craniosacral Therapy concentrates on a light touch over the body. Listening to your body and communicating with it, the therapist places their hands on specific places. Not only does it correspond with your body, it also communicates with your mind and spirit. This non-invasive therapy is extremely gentle and accessible to everyone. Encouragement of self-healing, releasing stress and anxiety were the main aspirations of my session. Creating a connection, whilst lying down, the therapist asked about the area of my pain and in depth details of my life. The therapist explained that the pain we feel, physically and emotionally, can come from past experiences which have had an impact on our bodies – held in our systems, often causing us problems in the future. Softly touching my head and spine, the therapist began to release stress from my body. Embracing the tranquillity, a deep calm washed over me, as the tension eased. Self-healing mechanisms kicked in as the usual dull ache I’d felt for so long subsided at a rapid pace, taking me by total surprise. My session lasted approximately half an hour, during which I experienced a heightened sense of body-awareness. Not only did it relieve my back pain, it also allowed me to reconnect with my emotions and gave me clarity of mind. Creating a safe and comfortable environment definitely enhanced the outcome. Craniosacral Therapy can work alongside Western medicine and the amount of sessions taken varies on each situation. Communicating with your mind, body and spirit through a simple touch proves how intelligent the human-body relationship really is. So far, I’ve just had this one session as my body responded quickly, but I would return for further treatment to re-live that sense of harmony restored in me. Emily Shields, Devon
no time for yoga?
When I first tried yoga, about three years ago, I was working long hours in an office and felt perpetually tired and stressed. I didn’t think I had time for socialising or to do hobbies I already had, so when friends recommended I try yoga they told me: “You don’t have time not to do it!”. Keen to get out of a rut, I thought I might as well give it a go. To my surprise, I was soon hooked. Quickly I discovered that giving up just an hour a few times a week for yoga not only improved my overall health and fitness, it also helped me focus. It made everything in life easier and more pleasurable, and I became more productive than I’d been in years. Back in January, I signed up for Bristol City Yoga’s January Challenge. The deal was, you completed at least four of their classes a week, and you earned a free week in February. I didn’t quite complete the challenge as work commitments took me abroad during the final week, but during 21 days I diligently attended as much as possible. Of course, there were times when I didn’t really fancy going - but I’d always feel better after. With incredibly tight hamstrings from running, the first downward dog of each class was often tough. But I persevered, and quickly reaped the rewards of deeper and more satisfying stretches. When I got back from my work trip, I forgot all about yoga again and prioritised other commitments. But as I sit hunched over my computer, with the weight of my never ending to-do list on my tense shoulders, I miss it. With the benefit of hindsight, I can appreciate the huge difference all that bending about made. I wasn’t lithely flipping into effortless headstands, by any means, but I did feel good. Yoga somehow manages to soothe whatever ails. It’s great for relaxation, focus, posture, mood, a healthy body – all of which help make up a happy person. I’ve never been sporty; I’m not particularly spiritual or new age in my outlook, but I have been shown (yet again) that yoga – if practised well, under the right instruction – is something we really don’t have time not to fit into our ridiculously hectic lives. Hannah Stuart-Leach, Bristol
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Lao Tzu inspired times issue 16 spring 2013
Few can dispute hemp’s healing qualities and versatility. Two entrepreneurs who have founded their companies using different aspects of this plant explain just why it’s their super hero.
FABRICS Emma Parkinson is the Director of BohoHemp, an online organic and fairtrade hemp clothing company. www.bohohemp.co.uk It’s never been a secret what hemp can do. Its just... well, I challenge you to find a plant more useful and adaptable and yet more misunderstood than hemp. Surrounded by innuendo and years of cliché the hemp plant is more than, and different to, its errant psychotropic cousin. It has been suggested that there are over 25,000 uses for hemp. No longer just a fringe fibre, hemp has gone mainstream on the High Street and up market with the likes of Versace and Habitude including it in their collections. US states such as Oregon, North Dakota, Vermont, Montana and West Virginia have followed a growing appreciation of hemp’s worth and backed its legal cultivation for industrial use. However, they have not yet begun to grow the crop due to resistance from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The irony is that, historically, this plant was once regarded by many in the US as more important than corn and soya, and was also a vital part of the Second World War effort. The first American flag was even made from hemp! Then, in 1941, that most iconic of American industrialists, Henry Ford, produced a car with a plastic frame partially made of hemp and an engine which could be powered by hemp fuel. Reclassification in some American states is however, bringing hemp out of the shadows. Manufacturers within the 30 countries who currently manufacture industrial hemp, design anything from hemp nappies, hemp protein foods, hemp oil to hemp houses made from hempcrete. Oh, and clothes! Manufacturers are very keen to explore alternatives to increasingly costly cotton, whilst being mindful of the need to satisfy environmental demands. Working with hemp, as with other plants such as flax, manufacturers have found ways to create incredibly silky, smooth materials.
inspired times issue 16 spring 2013
In Europe, the approach to hemp has been more forgiving – years of productive engagement and honing its use, have yielded some beautiful textiles. Getting the best out of hemp as a clothing fabric has seen it blended with cotton, wool and silk. The hairy, fibre image associated with knotted rope and lifeless hippy clothing is a thing of the past as hemp appreciation develops and it becomes a future fabric.
What are the environmental advantages of hemp as a fabric? b Hemp is the super star of eco-fabrics. Hemp is so green it has actually been used as a carbon-negative crop. It requires no pesticides, little weeding, and grows like the dickens. It even enriches the soil it leaves behind. b Hemp has been used for millennia in clothing around the world, and requires no chemicals to be spun into cloth. b It is both biodegradable and non-toxic. b It is one of the most durable natural fibres that exist with high tensile strength. Hemp softens with use yet remains hard-wearing. b Hemp fabrics dye very effectively and retain colour well over time. b Hemp garments breathe due to the fibre’s porous nature. b Hemp cloth stays cool in warm weather as well as retaining heat in cooler weather. b Hemp clothing naturally stops up to 95% of the sun’s harmful UV light. You don’t have to compromise on fashion and principles anymore. You can look good and know that your purchase of hemp garments helps in the development of sustainable products through conscious consumerism. Let’s be a part of something really significant and think about what we wear.
the miracle plant WELLBEING Tim Barford is the founder of Yaoh – a range of hemp bodycare and food products. He is also the organiser of VegfestUK, which now has three events each year: Brighton, Bristol and London.
I’ve been eating hemp for around 20 years now, as well as using hemp bodycare. It is the most amazing seed there is – it has so many uses, but the main one is its nutritional value. People have been eating hemp seed on this planet for tens of thousands of years now, and indeed such is its incredible nutritional properties, whole tribes have survived famines by living off hemp seed. Even the Buddha managed to survive off a hemp seed a day for 6 years if the stories are to be believed. From personal experience though, the benefits of hemp seed are exceptional when you eat enough of it – no word of a lie.
The best way to eat hemp seed is probably with its shell taken off, to reveal the white meat of the seed – what is known as a dehulled hemp seed, or shelled hemp seed. This way you can sprinkle them onto cereals, pasta, rice dishes, salads, into smoothies, in fact you can use them anywhere. They are best eaten raw, so you should avoid cooking with them really. Hemp seeds have a very high protein content, but they also have an excellent essential fatty acid content too – you know, the omega 3s, 6s and 9s you keep hearing about. Hemp seeds are ultrarich in EFAs and also have a very balanced ratio of different fats too, ensuring that with long term use the fats remain at the right balance for optimum human health. You can also access the EFA content of hemp seed through hemp oil. Again this is best used raw and can be added to salad dressings as well as to cooked foods once removed from the heat. Hemp oil has a slightly nutty flavour and must be used fresh – it can deteriorate quite quickly, and if your hemp oil is past its sell by date it’s best not to use it. Hemp oil and seed should smell fresh and sweet, not bitter and rancid. If it smells fishy, this is a sign that the fats have deteriorated.
Hemp can also be used as a protein powder, with some ratios going up to 70% protein content. Hemp Protein powder is ideal for those looking to boost their protein content – hemp protein is very easily assimalable and the body laps it up. Protein is all about quality not quantity and the proteins in hemp – edestin and albumin – are both quality easily digestible proteins. This causes hemp to be a true super food of the 21st century, standing out from the others for all round performance and overall health benefits. I find that eating lots of hemp can give you loads of extra energy, better stamina and brain function, more stable emotions, and plenty of lead in your pencil. It has provided me with the nutrients of which I felt lacking when I went vegan nearly 30 years ago – it was only 20 years ago I that started eating hemp and it made an immediate difference to my life, like it was the missing link in my diet. I would recommend eating large quantities of hemp to everyone but especially anyone who is transforming their diet and going plant based – hemp and all seeds are a big part of the vegan diet and must be eaten raw for full effect – smoothies are brilliant for this, because they smash the seed and make it even more easily digestible. I do hemp smoothie demos at many vegan events around the country including VegfestUK events – see www.vegfest.co.uk for details.
Hemp oil is also used a lot in bodycare and makes an excellent food for the skin – far better than the processed palm oil that fills so many bodycare products, even well known ‘green’ and ‘natural ‘ brands. Hemp makes a brilliant moisturiser and protects on a cellular level due to its high essential fatty acid content, therefore making an excellent choice for people of any skin type or age.
Yaoh: www.yaoh.co.uk – For organic hemp food products and bodycare. BohoHemp: www.bohohemp.co.uk – An online organic and fairtrade hemp clothing company. Good Hemp: www.goodwebsite.co.uk – For UK grown hemp food products. Hempish: www.hempish.com – Stock a wide range of hemp bags, clothes and accessories. The Hemp Shop: www.thehempshop.co.uk – An excellent one stop hemp shop.
inspired times issue 16 spring 2013
meaningful coincidences Do things just simply happen or is life part of a chain of events? Sunita Passi meets Julie Dent, proprietor of The Clover Retreat, who reveals how synchronicity has affected her new life and career.
n our busy modern world it is sometimes easy to forget the concept of synchronicity, where one thing leads to another and a chain begins. Synchronicity happens to everyone, but the person far best able to comprehend it is the one to whom it occurs. These events are personal gifts from a greater intelligence responsible for the formation of a happy and healthy planet earth, and when we allow ourselves to be guided by this principle we see our personal destiny start to unfold. I had the pleasure of meeting Julie Dent nearly four years ago. Our paths had never crossed, although we both lived only a 10-minute drive away from each other in west London. I was introduced to Julie by photographer Nick Clark at a wedding in 2008, London. Interestingly, Nick and I did not speak to each other until the end of the night and it was only by chance he mentioned his ‘friend’ who was taking a big leap of faith, jacking in the corporate day job to buy a Mill in Malvern in the Hills and turn it into the most serene Ayurveda Spa and Wellness Centre. ‘I must meet this lady’ was my initial reaction. ‘What a wonderful personal story; to create something new and loving with her experience.’ We did meet and have since become very good friends as well as professional business colleagues. My company Tri-Dosha will host professional training programmes as well as a wellbeing retreat at The Clover Mill – www.TheCloverMill.com. Doors to the Mill will open early April 2013. I spoke to Julie about embracing the phenomena that perfect timing arrivals happen all around us and when we least expect it, and the concept of the ‘authentic life’.
Sunita: Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays, having made the transition from being employed to being a health/retreat entrepreneur? Julie: I am very satisfied with the transition – I’m lucky to have always been pretty self-motivated and nothing excites me more than a new challenge, especially in such a fascinating field which I feel will help address an unmet need, that of a residential ayurvedic retreat. The move has meant leaving London and living in the heart of the countryside which has brought me immense pleasure and reminded me that being surrounded by nature is where I operate best. Life is good, being fundamentally rooted in the surrounding landscape. Having a dog and a few acres to manage means that I’ve swapped the London gym for insulated wellies, 15 layers
Sunita: Do you get a sense that the things you do in life have a purpose? Julie: I have always had a need to feel that I am contributing to society in some way. I loved my previous career in the field of Western medicine and found it so satisfying, however I was not directly involved with the people who benefited. I feel using ayurvedic knowledge and techniques at the The Clover Mill health retreat will help people with whom I have personal contact to get more out of their life by rebalancing their mind, body and spirit and being immersed in the healing power of nature. Many people are working so hard and looking after their family and don’t make time to look after their own nutrition, exercise and lifestyle and I hope to help give them the motivation and techniques to do so. Sunita: Do you believe in synchronicity? Can you relate this concept to your new life as a health entrepreneur?
of fleece and a chainsaw – not my most glamorous look but no blusher required. Somehow, the pressures of social media and the ‘unreal’ urban lifestyle fade to insignificance when faced with the reality of building in the wettest year on record. Managing contractors is heading to the top of my most difficult projects list but now seeing my vision realised more than makes up for the stress of not having a clue what I’m doing; being self employed is definitely giving me the chance to reach my maximum potential.
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Julie: Yes very much so – I can describe several times where I have envisaged myself doing something, living somewhere and then it has actually happened. I do believe that you can attract positive things to your life by having a positive attitude and being confident that everything will work out well in the end. For example, I haven’t yet advertised for staff for the health retreat, they seem to be finding me! Just when I’ve been pondering how and where to start I receive a call or email and invariably they are just who I am looking for sometimes it is quite spooky. Sunita Passi is an Author, Speaker, Meditation Teacher & Holistic Entrepreneur. www.tri-dosha.co.uk
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Un-bake Victoria Leith, founder of Caramelia Cakery, dishes up some tasty raw desserts to kick off the spring season. She explains to us why ‘raw’ is the healthy option if you have a lil’ bit of a sweet tooth...
Caramelia Chocolate Mousse Cake For the fudgy, chewy base you will need: 360g medjool dates 2 tbsp tahini 3 tbsp coconut sugar 3 tbsp coconut butter
www.therawchocolatecompany.com For the This cake is SO decadent and delicious – your guests won’t even know it has avocado in it unless you tell them!
2 tbsp cacao nibs
For the rich chocolate mousse: 2 ripe avocados
4 tbsp carob powder
1/2 cup coconut cream (or coconut milk)
Process the above ingredients in a good food processor until you get a sticky ball.
2 tbsp tahini
Press firmly into a mould or dish of your choosing (I tend to opt for silicone moulds as they make it easy to turn the cake out.) For the crumbly layer: Scatter 1 cup of chocolate-covered mulberries over the base and press down firmly. This adds a joyous extra chocolate crumbly crunch! *Get your chocolate-covered mulberries from
100g cacao butter, gently melted 3 heaped tbsp cacao/chocolate powder (or carob or a mix of both) 3 -5 tbsp coconut sugar, depending on how sweet you want it Blend to a smooth cream and pour over the crumble layer. Set in the fridge for four hours, more if needed.
Incanberry and Black Mulberry Bites 1 cup incanberries
1 cup mixed black and white mulberries (or 1/2 cup of white mulberries and 1/2 cup raisins)
2. Pop in the freezer - they will firm up nicely!
5 tbsp coconut manna (or creamed coconut) 3 tbsp raw honey 1 cup shelled hemp seeds 1/2 cup lucuma Process the above ingredients in a food processor, shape into little bites and then you have two choices: 1. Pop in your dehydrator and dehydrate for 4-8 hours at 115 degrees. 14
inspired times issue 16 spring 2013
Keep in the fridge for a week.
a tasty cake... Why un-bake? I love eating cake so much but I realised a few years ago that wheat and gluten are not my best friends! I started experimenting in my kitchen with raw ingredients as I’d eaten a most decadently gorgeous cake, made by raw food guru, Shazzie, and wanted to make similarly lovely cakes for me and my family. Using nuts, seeds, raw honeys, pure cacao, coconut butters, medjool dates, fruits and vegetables, I concocted many different recipes that were not only pleasing to the eye and the taste-buds but to my body as well. As all my cakes are free from gluten, wheat, eggs, soy, refined sugars and dairy, they are suitable for anyone who loves cake but wishes to avoid these potential allergens. These cakes do not need popping in the oven as they are held together marvellously by the raw, organic butters used. Heating foods can destroy certain elements and nutrients so it’s fabulous to know that when you eat one of these raw cakes, they are not only delicious but can also be good for you.
Peanut Butter Fudge I love fudge and this tastes like the real deal without the heavy cream and sugar. 5 tbsp peanut butter 5 tbsp lucuma powder 100g cacao butter (melted) 3 tbsp raw honey: Blend well (I use a blender - you can mix but it will all incorporate for a real fudge consistency with an actual blender) Pour/scrape into a mould and set in the fridge. Cut into fudgy chunks. Eat as it is or serve with a lovely bowl of banana ice-cream! Use cashew or almond nut butter (or any other nut butter) if you don’t fancy peanut - and use a different sweetener if you’re vegan and don’t eat honey. I tried making this fudge with coconut sugar and raw honey - the raw honey one was out of this world and tastes like pure clotted cream fudge!
Victoria Leith is the founder of Caramelia Cakery and recently launched her e-book Caramelia Cakery… The Raw Un-Bakery. www.carameliacakery.co.uk
inspired times issue 16 spring 2013
inspiring getaways by Toby Cryne
time-out in the world of eco-builds For those looking to learn new green skills, POOSHing may be right up your ‘eco’ street. Step out of your daily lives and spend some time helping build a brighter future.
From humble beginnings at off-grid Camp Alamo in Oregon, USA, to a worldwide self-build phenomenon that is changing the face of sustainable projects; thePOOSH.org has been active in the eco-networking sphere since its inception in 2011. Assisting project builders and volunteers to create eco-friendly, sustainable ventures, thePOOSH.org (People’s Organisation on Sustainable Housing) acts as a digital link transcending mere geographical borders. Co-founder James Self, and a host of similarly minded eco-warriors first developed the website upon the realisation that, to create their woodland utopia in the Beaver State, they would need more capable hands. “We decided to use our own initiative, taking the working model of WWOOF
Connecting people through a mutual love of sustainable building is the foremost task at hand for the multi-platform website, which utilises Facebook and Twitter as part of its ecoarsenal. One feature on the website allows POOSHers to rate their project builders which brings insight for those wanting to get involved. By James’ own admission, the criterion for sustainable building is an elaborate question; one that is open for discussion. Preferring to use the term ‘sustainable structures’ over ‘sustainable housing’, ensures the inclusion of smaller set-ups around the globe, providing the same communal effort. James insists that POOSHing is for anyone that is wanting to build sustainably. “POOSHers are involved in both big, elaborate projects such as hotels as well as smaller scale projects such as retrofitting,” clarifies James, alluding to projects where POOSHers make sustainable additions to otherwise standard homes.
(World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and adapting it for sustainable building,” says James, and henceforth, thePOOSH.org was born. The website itself acts as a gateway to the sustainable project world, a totally free-to-use portal linking volunteers or POOSHers with project builders. Upon joining the site, volunteers are encouraged to create a profile similar to a Facebook page to guide the right person to the right eco-build. “The profile allows POOSHers to say who they are, what they’re into and why they want to be involved,” explains James. Images can be uploaded and members can access a database of worldwide projects plotted on a world map for all to see. Simply clicking on the plot will provide information about the project, detail the stage of its progress and give contacts. It couldn’t be easier! “What we need is to get people to realise that they really do have something to share,” says James. “Those passing through will take on new skills, carrying them forward. We believe it definitely has potential for global growth.”
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The exchange is rich in its rewards. POOSHers offer their time and energy in return for new knowledge and experiences. Many projects share food duties on site, building on the community vibe that James and his eco-comrades first fell for in 2011. Although the prerequisite of food is not always certain, thePOOSH. org encourages project builders to make some provisions for its volunteers where possible. With their primary focus on an inclusive communal environment, those involved can learn how to improve their sustainability, make new friendships and learn by way of on-the-job experience. POOSHers don’t need a vast array of skills; project hosts don’t need five tier eco-house builds – all that is required is a can-do attitude, a love of the outdoors and a passion for sustainability.
Cerenety Eco Campsite www.cerenetycampsite.com
camping... go green From making childhood ‘dens’ in your bedroom to venturing into the great outdoors as a teen, the pastime of camping has often played an integral part in our development. As the country still rafts on financial white-water, with many afloat living an ever-more digitised life – preferring to tweet than meet; families, couples and travellers alike are returning to the serenity of our nation’s fields once more. It seems that the camping ‘scene’ has taken a new lease of life in the age of iThis and Xthat. North Yorkshire’s upmarket ‘Bivouac’ – www.thebivouac.co.uk – offers campers 21st century perks within their mystical, almost pagan yurts and shacks. Yet those after a more traditional canvassed approach need look no further than the many campsites dotted across the nation. Though the ‘take only photographs and leave only memories’ ethos is still very much the rule of the wilderness, the ghost of environmental health has spooked the pursuit into the 21st century. Celli Moriarty, founder of Cerenety Eco Campsite – www.cerenetycampsite.co.uk – in Bude
studied Zoology at university and then continued to do a Masters in Conservation so had always been very interested in climate change and sustainability. “We wanted to create a place where people could have a great holiday whilst limiting their impact on the environment,” says Celli when discussing her family business. Along with other green-minded campsites around the country, they have rid themselves of the plagues of chemical toilets and gas fires, offering eco-friendly facilities instead – eco-camping, if you will. Solar showers, wind turbine heating systems and the ever-so necessary compost toilet are features that many ecocamping sites now boast, shunning the synthetics of the Portaloo for an altogether more natural approach. Though eco-camping may be a newly coined term, it perhaps best represents the essence of the raw nature of camping more than anything else. Camping as it should be. Mankind’s recent entanglements with technology may offer hi-tech, hygienic ways to flush our waste, yet with such technologies one often forgets about Mother Nature almost entirely. Could it be that ecocamping is just camping without all the bad stuff?
by Chris Hughes
all inked up
Creative expression means many things to many different people. Some paint, some recite poetry, and the brave amongst us dance. Others ritually attend Sci-Fi conventions in remote corners of the country dressed like their favourite comic book creations, intrepidly acting out their fantasies in their own endearing way. We all express creativity in unparalleled means, but we also share a commonality that permeates the essence of creative expression: to be inspired; to be unapologetically inquisitive in the pursuit of acting upon a vision with determination, belief and passion. Expressing this creativity forms an intrinsic part of the human condition, one that gleefully walks hand in hand with unbounded imagination.
Artistic expression pervades the world around us; blank canvasses are everywhere awaiting to explode with artistic potential – you just have to know where to look. The human body has been used as such a canvas for centuries, from the civilisations of antiquity to the present-day, but the art of tattooing itself has progressed. Its contemporary charm lies equally seared in its permanence and societal taboo, but its popularity has been increasing steadily over the years.
Upon embarking on the cusp of what were to become my teenage years, I picked up a guitar for the first time and discovered that music offered my own creative avenue of self-expression. It was one I felt offered others a glimpse into the creative maelstrom, that before then, only I could see with my mind’s eye. Playing the guitar nurtured my self-confidence and jamming with equally musical friends, dismantled my youthful diffidence. It was at this point during my formative years that I was first blessed by the heavy metal majesty of Metallica and Iron Maiden. The galloping riffs of Maiden’s Run to the Hills and full-on sonic assault of ‘Tallica’s Master of Puppets opened my ears to something that would later come to define a large part of who I am today. I no longer just played guitar, I was now shredding my axe! I eventually went on to attain a degree in music (I readily admit that the scholarly route isn’t very rock ’n’ roll) to pursue my passion with the same fervent enthusiasm that permeates my musical expression. To this day, I still retain the reticence of my teenageself, preferring to tip-toe on the periphery of social engagement, but what matters now is that I am confident in who I am and where I want to be. The profound honesty of music has afforded me the privilege to form lasting friendships with some of the most creative and inspirational people I have met. Music is part of my emotional fabric; I daydream in music and it continues to inspire me in all aspects of my life. It is a language in and of itself, a sincere expression of humanity capable of transcending the emotional confines we sometimes inadvertently impose on ourselves. As I have grown I have come to admire creativity in all its forms, inspired by a common appreciation and respect for something so profoundly ubiquitous. When we nurture our own creativity, we may even inspire others just as we were once inspired ourselves.
inspired times issue 16 spring 2013
The Great British Tattoo Show (25th – 26th May) celebrates the art of the tattoo and its eccentric subculture in all its forms, offering visitors the chance to immerse themselves in everything and anything tattoo. Held this year at the Alexandra Palace in London, the convention caters to the inked and un-inked alike offering a dynamic array of entertainment and attractions from fashion shows and art seminars to street magic and burlesque shows. There’s no need to be shy, and no obligation to ‘get inked’ yourself – tattoos are no longer the exclusive domain symbolic of a Hell’s Angel or convict of a 1940s Russian gulag. Like most subcultures, a tattoo represents more than just a permanent artwork embedded in your skin; to many it’s a lifestyle. Perhaps inscribing a tattoo is the ultimate form of self-expression. Wearing your emotions manifest-into-art on your skin or serving as a permanent reminder of a fleeting, but meaningful moment in your life. It can be quite literally wearing your heart on your sleeve!
visionary science Since time immeasurable, humans have been captured by the neverending pursuit of knowledge; to gain an understanding of the world around us, of the physical laws that bind and govern our observable universe. Humanity’s veritable evolution of knowledge owes immeasurable thanks to some of mankind’s most creative minds. The scientific spectrum of discovery is filled with candid bouts of creativity, from Copernicus’ heliocentrism to Einstein’s work on relativity, that forever changed contemporary culture and the way we live our lives. Every great advance in scientific understanding has involved, in part, a rejection of established paradigms, involving assumptions so radical as to approach incredulity. Einstein’s most famous association, E=mc2, remains a pillar of modern physics; an equation so universal, so apparently simple, yet so esoteric as to elude understanding for many of us. It is the paragon of creativity and creative thinking.
communities by Rebecca Day
woodcraft folk set sights high Meandering through the woodlands and recreational areas of Britain is an educational movement helping build young people’s self-confidence and social activity. Based on its beliefs of equality, friendship, peace and co-operation, Woodcraft Folk – www.woodcraft.org.uk – is a democratic organisation, with a core objective to empower children and educate them about the world they live in.
as singing, playing and debating, as well as regular outings and camping - through these simple activities, children learn big ideas about society. There are 5 different groups, each accommodating for specific ages. ‘Woodchips’ is for children under the age of 6; ‘Elfins’ is for 6-9 year-olds; ‘Pioneers’ is for 10-12 year-olds; ‘Venturers’ is for teenagers aged from 13-15; and ‘District Fellows’ are for those aged 16-20.
Founded in 1925, Woodcraft Folk was a fairly radical youth movement, because of its inclusion of both boys and girls. It has since became a registered charity for children and young people nationally, solely run by volunteers out of the goodness of their hearts. Thousands congregate each week in various locations throughout the UK. Whether it be in school halls or community venues, children are not only encouraged to share, but to also have their say and help run the group.
Jo McEvoy started volunteering for Woodcraft Folk after she began taking her children along to the ‘Elfins’ group, based in Portsmouth. She knew about the organisation because of her husband’s involvement thirty years ago. “One of the main reasons for picking Woodcraft Folk was because of its ethos,” explains Jo. “The organisation is also very supportive of volunteers and the website provides helpful links to plan a group night.” With both of her children now in ‘Pioneers’, the group meets once a week to partake in activities both indoors and outdoors. Jo says her personal favourite is camping under the stars, although cooking thirty people dinner over the open fire can be quite a challenge. Activities have included a five day trip across to the Isle of Wight
With its sights set on achieving a more peaceful and democratic world, the organisation channels its efforts in teaching members about environmental issues as well as global conflicts. All of this is achieved with group activities such
- along with the Southampton Woodcraft Folk - where the children learnt bushcraft skills and took part in scavenger hunts and trips to the beach. “All groups are different,” explains Jo. “Our Portsmouth group is very active and enjoys the great outdoors, whilst another local group is very musical and creative.” She believes joining together with other groups creates a great community; an opportunity to mix and learn from one another, forging new friendships. Jo affirms the most important thing she can do for her children is to help guide them to form their own opinions and to stand up against injustice. Empowering young people of today is vitally important and with the help of organisations such as Woodcraft Folk, children can see the wood for the trees and gain a better understanding of the world.
sharing our prized possessions As Leonard Nimoy famously quoted: “The miracle is this – the more we share, the more we have”. Through the kind act of lending and borrowing, we can enrich our communities; creating strong friendships within neighbourhoods and a greater sense of self worth.
Priding itself of this strong ethos is Ecomodo – www.ecomodo.com – a website that’s free to join and enables people to lend and borrow goods with others in their community. From tents to lawnmowers; gazebos to golf clubs, users enlist items to lend out, whilst seeing what others have to offer. Items can either be leant for free, or lenders can charge people for borrowing them. Users can also list their expertise and spaces too; Mandarin tuition and fish stew cookery lessons to name a few. Founded by Meriel Lenfestey and Tracy Currer, Ecomodo was born out of a desire
for communities to support each other. Meriel was sitting on a train one day watching streams of gardens pass her by. She was pondering over some woodwork, when she realised that she didn’t have the right tools available. Instead of purchasing them brand new, she wondered how beneficial it would be borrowing the tools from a friend, relative or neighbour – not only for the environment, but for her bank balance as well. “Lending and borrowing is good for people, pocket and planet,” affirms Tracy Currer. “It encourages social engagement and maximises the utility of the resources we already have.”
choose to take a deposit or insurance if they prefer and a feedback rating system is also in place to share experiences. Alex used Ecomodo to lend out his hedge cutter. “[It was] a painless experience that left me smiling, as I’d been able help someone out,” he says. “I immediately posted two other items in response to someone’s wants.”
According to Tracy, the average drill is only used for 12 minutes during its lifetime. “The impact from the collection of raw materials, manufacturing and distributing is unacceptable – the purchaser was probably only within metres of an idle drill in a neighbour’s shed!” Lenders can
With Ecomodo being recently rewarded funding, they hold high hopes for its future. Enhancing and developing its service is priority, but they would also like to support the co-creation of new initiatives. “We hope this will be the nudge for many more future community engagements,” enthuses Tracy.
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festivals & events by Sarah Griffiths
Puravida Long Weekend, 3rd – 6th May, Dorset VegfestUK Bristol, 24th – 26th May, Harbourside, Bristol Mind Body Spirit, 24th May – 27th May, Earls Court, London Surya Yoga Camp, 29th May – 2nd June, Cornwall Sunrise Celebration, 30th May – 2nd June, Somerset
Woodfest, 19th – 21st July, Keighley Starry Skies, 24th – 28th July, Welsh Border Quest, 25th – 28th July, Newton Abbot, Devon Secret Garden Party, 25th – 28th July, East Anglia WOMAD, 25th – 28th July, Wiltshire Cornwall Circus Camp, 31st July – 4th Aug, Cornwall
London Green Fair, 8th – 9th June, Regents Park, London Isle of Wight Festival, 13th – 16th June, Newport, Isle of Wight Stonehenge Summer Solstice, 20th – 21st June, Wiltshire Glastonbury, 26th – 30th June, Pilton, Somerset
Larmer Tree, 17th – 21st July, Wilts/Dorset Border Buddhafield, 17th – 21st July, near Taunton, Somerset
Camp Bestival, 1st – 4th Aug, Dorset Gaunts Summer Gathering, 8th – 11th Aug, Gaunts House, Dorset Croissant Neuf, 8th – 11th Aug, nr Usk, Wales One World (UK), 12th – 18th Aug, Reading Green Man Festival, 15th – 18th Aug, Wales Sunrise Off-Grid, 15th – 18th Aug, Somerset Shambala Festival, 22nd – 25th Aug, Northants
Kick start the 2013 festival season in style... 24th – 26th May: Vegfest Bristol... a party to remember! Hitting the harbourside this May, Vegfest Bristol dishes up the tastiest helping yet in honour of its 10th anniversary. The gathering’s consistent popularity has made it one of the world’s biggest veggie events with 25,000 hungry herbivores expected to descend upon Bristol from far and wide.
Kicking off by Bristol’s iconic waterfront, this vegetarian Shangri-la runs for two days and three nights stuffed with veggie treats and beats. Two mighty marquees host over 120 stalls including food, recipes, bodycare, accessories and fashion, which are all 100% animal product free. Mouthwatering culinary delights will be served up by 12 specialist vegetarian caterers from around the world, whilst Sutra Kitchens – straight out of London’s funky Soho – will be dishing out cookery demonstrations to inspire vegetarian cookery novices and experts alike. Melissa Morgan (Ms Cupcake) and Pat Reeves from Food Alive are two of the many speakers hosting nutritional talks. You’ll soon be eager to make a dash for your kitchen and stage a vegetarian-cooking coup. The child friendly festival has a space hosted by Junkfish where ‘cabbage patch’
kids can play while adults enjoy nightly comedy hours, a cinema and even a crazy golf course. Adding a large pinch of ambiance to the affair, the Chariots of the Sun stage will host a melody of live musical talent. Many a homegrown act from right here in Bristol will be included in the mix. And once the sun goes down a stellar lineup of headline acts and DJs will grace the main stage, seeing you shimmy under the stars. Groove to the effortlessly cool gypsy jazz beats of Caravan Palace on Friday, grin from ear to ear when Happy Mondays reunite on Saturday and wriggle to the rhythms of roots reggae band the Abyssians and Macka B on Sunday. Hardcore revelers can hit the after parties, stomping into the early hours. Recent controversy surrounding the horsemeat scandal has more people chomping at the bit to reduce their meat and dairy intake, looking to explore a vegetarian way of life. Whether you’re a seasoned or newly sprouted vegetarian, Vegfest Bristol provides the perfect patch to come and get ‘vegucated’. So trot down to the longest established and most independent food and music event in Bristol. Organisers have poured passion and zest, not to mention a decade’s worth of experience into this flavorsome festival – proving that plant based is positively palatable. www.bristol.vegfest.co.uk
8-11th August: Gaunts Summer Gathering... uniting like-minded souls For a spiritual awakening this summer, come and find yourself palm to palm with like-minded souls in the beautiful grounds of Gaunts House – www.gauntssummergathering.com. A stunning red brick mansion set in over 2,000 acres of protected Dorset countryside, Gaunts hosts a four day celebration where profound learning, creative-living and ecological ethos are the order of the day. The gathering provides a dogma-free organic environment to challenge your way of thinking and heighten self-awareness.
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Your surroundings alone should be enough to provide inspiration – reflect over the tranquil waters of the four-acre lake, or come alive in the private woodlands that teem with wildlife and sunlight dapples the path. Like apples from a tree you can pick from a true harvest of quality workshops. Last year’s crop was abound with inwardly focused meditation, yoga
24th – 28th July: Starry Skies Festival... a magical family affair Shambala is having a baby! July will witness the birth of Starry Skies Festival – www.starry-skies.net – which promises to be no less unique and magical than its parent event. Organisers have added an extra pinch of fairy dust to the mix, creating a truly family friendly event. The ethos is to bring families back to the roots of Mother Earth – into nature and away from modern technology. On arriving, one look at the unrivalled beauty of the Welsh Monnow Valley, will be enough to have you stashing away whatever gadgets you’ve brought for the next five days. Encouraged by the intimate size of the festival, an obliging ‘village-like’ vibe will have you pitching in to help others and vice versa. Keeping with the tone of Shambala, Starry Skies offers a picnic-hamper spread of creative workshops and activities. Kids can become king or queen of the castle in den building classes. In the acres of ancient woodland, baby ‘Bear Gryllses’ can start fires in bush craft skills, take a natural art lesson or follow the resident storyteller on a quest through the thicket! As well as forest frolics, children can get mucky
with clay play, try their hand at jewellery making and hone their circus skills. Parents who fancy grabbing some kid-free hours are encouraged to do so. Early morning cartoon club is organised so you can have a lie in, yoga classes, wild river canoeing, hot tub and even a dedicated relaxation therapy ‘metime’ tent. Round off a picture perfect day with some Garway Hill star gazing, or an ‘old school’ romantic popcorn date at the Starry Skies cinema club. The Giant Tipi looms large at the centre of camp, hosting many of the activities on offer - ensuring festival goers are not slaves to the perils of British summertime. Family sports day encourages a little friendly competition with awards handed out at the Saturday night Big BBQ Feast. If sport isn’t your forté there are plenty of other chances to win prizes: dads can spin some tunes at the ‘Battle of the Dad DJ’ competition. Starry Skies may just have hit the tent peg on the head and found what the festival scene has been lacking – a sparkling family holiday heaven.
31st July – 4th August: Cornwall Circus Camp... high flying fun & frolics Roll up roll up to Cornwall Circus Camp! Thrills and spills of dizzying heights, amazing balancing acts and awe-inspiring acrobatics are all waiting for you – the star of the show. Set amongst peaceful woodland in the heart of Cornwall, the big top will arrive midsummertime. Hone your circus skills over one day, or stay for the whole extravaganza and give the professionals a run for their money. Total beginners are welcome, as are trainee performers of all ages... so don’t be shy, step up and try!
rigorous workout and agility boost to leave you glowing. Show off at the cabaret and performance session, allowing your inner thespian to take centre stage. Unwind with the daily warm down yoga classes before hungry tummies gather in the apple barn to feast upon a sumptuous dinner. To round off the evening things really heat up with a fire-dancing session, you’ll be out like a light once you hit the pillow and the final flames extinguish.
Be sure to bring bags of energy for focused training and a jam-packed program that will have you tumbling into your camp bed each night. A typical day will start with invigorating yoga to get your blood pumping ready for a program of exciting activities. Learn how to master adroit acrobatics, balance on a unicycle, be a dancing diva, get the upper hand on the swinging trapeze and take the plunge with canoeing, but hopefully not from the high wire! Save some pizzazz for the Capoeira and Diablo classes – a
Circo Kernow – www.swampcircus.co.uk – the creator of this high-flying event, is the region’s first and only circus training school. Established in 2002 they provide top of the range training with exceptional instructors from the UK and around the world. Their Cornish Camp has only 150 places available for budding trainees, so escape the humdrum of everyday life and run away with the circus, for five days at least...
and chakra-tuning, to out of this world astrology and even raw chocolate making classes – delicious! Inspirational speakers will host talks to deepen your journey of selfdiscovery and awaken your consciousness to new ideas. Parents can bring their kids along to join them on this magic roundabout of a festival, with a range of entertainment for the young ones of helter skelter proportions. Expect your offspring to be transfixed with yoga for kids, bush craft skills and much more. Of course, no festival would be complete without a little music, and Gaunts Summer Gathering’s diverse line up is as unique as its overall mission. Performances intoned with the vibrations of the didgeridoo or the clang of tubular
bells will be harmonised with acts more used to the spotlight. Perhaps you’ll find peace in the hum of a Tibetan singing bowl or the subliminal sounds of a shamanic drum? Snuggle up in the comfort of the house, or for those who like to be as close as possible to nature, pitch your tent and drift into dreamland under the stars. Stay very quiet and you may be lucky enough to spot one of the barn or tawny owls that frequent the grounds after twilight. You’re sure to have a hoot at this fully vegetarian gathering as you flock together with fellow soul-searchers. So come and immerse yourself in this cornucopia of inspiration, for what has been described as a ‘life changing’ experience. Oh and just one more thing – the Gathering is mainly alcohol free, so a raging hangover is unlikely. Instead leave fresh with enthusiasm and illuminating ideas.
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When tap water is readily available, just why are so many of us buying this natural resource in a plastic bottle? It’s quite literally costing us the Earth! Alex Saunders floods us with the facts about the bottled water industry and flies the flag for those who are trying to change our drinking habits.
2O is the life force that humanity relies upon and since the beginning of time it has been essential to our existence and continued development. Not only is around 70% of the Earth’s surface covered by it, but this ratio also applies to the amount of water found in an adult’s body. The consumption of water is therefore crucial to healthy living and general well being although in these days of relentless industrial expansion, the way we choose to consume this precious resource is having huge environmental ramifications for the stability of our planet. Global figures regarding plastic bottled water usage have been escalating at a dramatic rate over the past 30 years. Ever since the 1980s, when green Perrier bottles became a status symbol for young professionals, the savvy marketing departments of bottled water companies have invested heavily in this subculture. Over the decades, advertising campaigns have become increasingly more elaborate in an attempt to appeal to a much larger market, achieving great success (and even greater profits) in the process. It has now reached a point where buying bottled water has become standard consumer practice, but at what cost to our planet?
huge environmental impact In 2010, World Watch estimated that 225 billion litres of bottled water were consumed globally (the equivalent of 90,000 full Olympic-sized swimming pools) with significant numbers being packaged in plastic bottles. Many of these ended their single use life buried in landfills, littering streets or swallowed up by the Earth’s oceans and their aquatic inhabitants. Although consumerist demand and the initial production of bottled water is clearly the root of the issue, the true scale of the problem arises in the disposal of the billions of plastic bottles we use
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every year. Most plastic bottles that contain soft drinks and water are made from PET1 plastic and although they can be recycled, large proportions are not. Research from 2010 has shown that roughly half of PET plastics were collected for recycling in Europe with the rest going to landfill where they can take up to 450 years to decompose. The UK is still trying to catch up! DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) reported that 240,000 tonnes of plastic bottles were sent to landfill in 2011 by households that had access to kerbside plastic recycling collection. To offer some perspective that’s the equivalent in weight of 114 London Eyes stacked together, which further highlights the need for a change in recycling attitudes.
plastic gulps up finite resources The manufacturing of plastic bottles uses finite natural resources in the production process; PET is, after all, a petroleum-based product. For just one single litre of bottled water, roughly ¼ litre of oil and seven litres of water are required with each bottle produced creating over 100g of greenhouse gas emissions. Further to this, out of the 2.1 billion litres of water we drink annually in the UK a quarter of these are being imported from other countries. The carbon footprint of transporting these bottles via lorries, planes or boats results in a far higher carbon load than delivering water to our taps. Expand this for worldwide distribution and the burden placed upon the environment becomes all too clear. The threat that bottled water poses to our planet needs to be addressed by everyone if we are to limit the mega-waste disaster that is already in progress. The obvious question then is: why are people (and the planet) paying so much for a commodity that flows at a far lower financial and environmental cost from our taps? Unlike many developing countries where the cleanliness of tap water can be a real issue, municipal water in the UK is subjected to more stringent tests than those required for bottled water. The growing obsession with bottled water, and the subsequent decline in people drinking tap water, seems to derive from three main factors: a fear about the quality of the water itself, preference of taste and finally, convenience when away from the home. The convenience of drinking bottled water when out and about clearly constitutes a large part of the problem, although there are several organisations in the UK who have put forward responsible alternatives to more plastic. In a climate of rampant disposable attitudes, the efforts of these inspiring individuals show that there is always another way to get hydrated.
find a fountain The Metropolitan Free Drinking Fountain Association was first set up in London in 1859 to promote the provision of clean drinking water for people in the UK and overseas. The organisation rapidly expanded and in 150 years has installed 4,000 drinking fountains and 40 water wells overseas. In its 21st century incarnation, ‘The Drinking Fountain Association’ is now overseeing a new, modern-day venture, Find-a-Fountain – www.findafountain.org.
“As an environmental consultant, I was angry that I was forced to buy bottles of water in St Pancras,” says Guy
Jeremiah, co-founder of Find-aFountain. “There were no fountains available and you’d rarely be carrying a bulky bottle.” This exciting movement aims to reduce environmental damage caused by plastic bottles by reigniting interest in the hundreds of fountains that have been forgotten or fallen into disrepair over the years. For those renovated or still in use, health and safety regulations generally ensure the public are protected from potential hazards. For example, some fountains have covered spouts installed to prevent people’s lips from touching the nozzle and ultimately, the water dispensed comes from the same source as our rigorously tested tap water. The project itself was kick-started when Guy, along with co-founder Paul O’Connell, set off around London on their bikes in search of drinking fountains, mapping their findings on the website. “We need everyone’s help to identify the rest,” comments Guy. Locating the nearest available drinking fountain will be made even easier as a smart phone app is due to be released in spring. As the project builds momentum, the team are hopeful that new recruits will join the cause in the hunt for those forgotten fountains!
reusable bottles leading the way New doors are also opening elsewhere with several organisations giving the concept of reusable bottles a much-needed facelift. Mike Green, founder of Tap Water Ltd – www.tapwater.org – offers an eco-friendly alternative to buying plastic bottled water with his stainless steel ‘lifebottle’. “Clever marketing is now selling something that’s freely available,” states Mike who has been contacting establishments around the country, requesting them to become refilling stations that offer people free access to their tap water. This is a cost effective solution of quenching thirst as buying bottled water costs on average 500 times more than tap water. A completely unnecessary cost, especially when you learn that between 20-40% of bottled water sold is actually derived from tap water, sometimes treated further, sometimes not. By becoming a registered refilling station, the business will have a sticker placed in their window to advertise their inclusion in the scheme. The hope is that when people get their bottle refilled they will also buy something, but this isn’t mandatory. The ingenuity of this concept is that all cafes and restaurants need
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a basic hygiene certificate to serve food and drink which means the water they provide is guaranteed to be safe to drink. “We are trying to create a movement and change people’s habits,” declares Mike. “Our scheme is open to anybody with any bottle, that’s how I see the future.” In 2010, Edwin Broni-Mensah was on a fitness programme that required him to drink 4-5 litres of water a day. He experienced firsthand not being able to get access to free tap water, and felt compelled to do something about it. GiveMeTap was his answer – www.givemetap.co.uk. “I was frustrated by some of the issues connected with people not having access to water around the world,” says Edwin. “We have some of the best and cleanest water in the whole world, yet people wouldn’t give me access to it once I had left my home.” By recruiting shops to become providers, GiveMeTap aims to create a water network that shows people they can always get free tap water on the move if using his bottle. Like Mike, Edwin also sells reusable steel water bottles – distinguished by their vibrant blue colour – although each 2 bottles purchased provides one person in Africa with access to water for life. As the enterprise has evolved, Edwin has successfully established links with internationally recognised companies such as Pizza Hut. By working with these larger organisations, Edwin seeks a future in which everyone is aware of the genuine alternatives to drinking bottled water.
what to look for... With so many different types of reusable bottles available on the market, choosing the right bottle is an important decision. Dan Brousson, another environmentally conscientious entrepreneur, set up Onya – www.onyabags.co.uk – with his brother in Australia and since its inception the company has naturally progressed from its debut product of reusable bags to making reusable bottles. “We started from just being frustrated by environmental waste and needless packaging,” reflects Dan. “It began as a bit of a research project and a personal pet hate.” Over the years, Onya and its sister site, www.reusablebottle.co.uk, have grown and now offer a wide range of reusable bottles that vary in shapes and styles. When looking for your own reusable bottles, Dan recommends one made from stainless steel as it’s durable, toxin free and hygienic. Steel also does not leach harmful chemicals into the contents unlike many aluminium bottles; their epoxy resin linings have been known to break down allowing the cheap metal
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to come into direct contact with the water. Dan also suggests hand washing reusable bottles as repeatedly putting them in the dishwasher can wear down the seal resulting in leakages. Another important thing to look out for when choosing a reusable bottle is to make sure it doesn’t contain Bisphenol-A (BPA) – a compound found in polycarbonate plastics, such as the hard plastic sports bottles – as several international institutions such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have expressed concerns about its effects on the endocrine and cardiovascular systems.
healthy hydration Despite all of these sustainable alternatives, in 2011 alone, the average Briton consumed over thirty litres of bottled water. This is a staggering figure when you consider that tap water in the UK has been proven by independent tests to be among the cleanest and safest in the world. The quality of the water in this country is regularly inspected and in 2010 the DWI (Drinking Water Inspectorate) reported a 99.96 percent compliance with standards by UK water companies. On the other hand, in recent years health concerns have been raised relating to the use of plastic bottles. The validity of these claims has attracted great controversy and only time will tell the true extent of the damage that plastic bottles are having on our health. In the meantime, many carry labels that state the bottle is for single use only due to bacteria that can build up from repeated use. Within homes where taste can be a factor, filtration systems can always be installed as an environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternative to buying bottled water for everyday consumption.
changing the flow So what is it going to take to make people change their habits when drinking water? “It’s all about developing a behavioural change,” says Dan. “For some people it’s about making them understand that plastic bottles are so damaging and what seems like a convenient impulse action is having a huge impact.” Although it would be unrealistic to suggest that all plastic bottles should be banned, it’s inspirational to see that there are individuals out there offering responsible solutions to the problem. With similar schemes building momentum all over the planet, more and more people are acknowledging that our unquenchable thirst for bottling natural resources is clearly unsustainable. So next time you feel thirsty, side-step a plastic planet and refill your way to a free flowing future.
Shop online Save the planet Simples Dear Reader, Do you ever buy things on the internet? Would you like to help save the planet at the same time? If you answered yes to both questions, you need to sign up to the Green Steve Shop. By using it, you can eďŹ€ectively reduce your carbon footprint and do your bit to prevent a catastrophic temperature increase.
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green gift guide Unde r Hemp Rope Dog Bone Toy – £4.50
Treat man’s best friend and also planet Earth with a dog toy made entirely from hemp. Widely regarded as one of the most versatile materials in existence, there appears to be no end to its ubiquitous uses. Made from 100% European untreated hemp, this little gift is sure to get your furry friend’s tail a-wagging. www.ecoutlet.co.uk
Cement Bag – £9.95
Stand out from the crowd with an eye-catching recycled cement bag. Strutting away from the building site and onto the catwalk, each handbag is lined with unbleached cotton before being fitted with zip pockets for all your daily storage needs. Made at a women’s co-op in Bangladesh, the bag has both full green and fair trade credentials. www.turtlebags.co.uk
Apple Picker – £10.00
The arrival of spring means that apple trees nationwide will be blossoming. Get ready for your crop by adding an enormous 90cm to your reach! This crafted wicker apple picker prevents bruising while making the picking process easier and more efficient. Craving a Red Delicious, Granny Smith or Ginger Gold? Looking to brew your own cider? Get picking... www.ecoutlet.co.uk
Organic Beer Gift Set – £12.00
Concocted by Atlantic Brewery in an 18th century farmhouse a few miles from the beautiful North Cornish coast, their ales use only the finest locally sourced vegan and organic ingredients. From Golden Pale Ale with Lime, Chili & Ginger to Red Celtic Bitter with Cinnamon & Orange, feel merry supping on this perfect thirst-quenching tipple, safe in the knowledge that you’re supporting a small ethical business. Cheers! www.purelycornish.co.uk
Glowing wax spheres (15cm) – £14.95
Kit out your backyard with reusable glowing wax spheres; transforming your outdoor space into an enchanted glowing paradise. Perfect for inside use as well as out, they’re guaranteed to brighten up your day (and home). www.sarahraven.com
See No Evil tee – £20.00
Make a stand against the disproportionate outlay of the world’s wealth by donning the latest T-shirt design from Mau Mau. With only 5% of global income accounting for 40% of the population, the richest 20% could end world poverty by distributing their wealth. Made from 100% organic cotton, the garment also makes an environmental as well as social statement.www.thtc.co.uk
inspired times issue 16 spring 2013
by Stephanie Croft
new eco-friendly light source GravityLight is an exciting sustainable project in prototype phase, devised to replace the dangerous kerosene lamps most commonly used by developing nations. GravityLight – www.deciwatt.org – is a brand new light source primarily designed for use in remote locations with little or no access to electricity. Developers, Martin Riddiford and Jim Reeves, explain that the lamp generates energy powered by gravity. A bag hanging from the lamp needs to be filled with 9kg of material, like sand and rocks, to harness energy. When the weight is lifted for 3 seconds, the lamp provides 30 minutes of light (and simply repeat). The cost will be less than £3 per lamp, and an initial batch of 1,000 will be delivered for free to India and Africa. The team of designers is aiming to ship the prototypes for a global user trial in July.
farmers and communities unite Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a partnership between farmers and communities working together to grow and harvest local produce. Farmers receive a secure increased wage as they sell directly to committed customers, while the community is kept in the loop about the source of their fresh food. As the produce accrues less ‘food miles’, it is more environmentally friendly. Earlier this year, an event in South Wales saw CSA farmers from across the nation, work together to establish mutually beneficial networks. Independent CSAs who can support each other united to discuss what works and what doesn’t. CSA is supported by charities that promote community driven farming and provide opportunities for agricultural work, like the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens and Soil Association.
make your own solar charger Low-Impact Living Initiative (LILI) – www.lowimpact.org – has introduced a course developed by Norman Phipps to teach people how to make their own phone chargers using scrap solar panels and a USB attachment. These homemade personal and sustainable energy sources cost a fraction – approximately 1/3 – of ready made solar panels. Incredibly thin solar cells are combined with watertight materials in a wooden frame to keep the solar charger in great working condition. Just plug in your phone when sunny, and it’ll start to charge. The hands-on courses run in May (10-12) and September.
Bhutan has recently hit the headlines as a pioneer in sustainable development, aiming to become the first country in the world to produce 100% organic agriculture. Bhutan intends to completely dispose of all pesticides and herbicides to rely solely on farm waste and animals for fertilisers. Already a highly sustainable country, Bhutan’s forests cover 80% of the land and more than 95% of the population has clean water. Chemical fertilisers infiltrate natural water sources, so organic farming will also help improve the health of the inhabitants. Closed to the influences of the West, like television and Internet until 1999, the world’s eyes are now focused on Bhutan as it attempts to lead the way in environmental safeguarding. However, the last few years of unpredictable weather and exceptionally high temperatures have disturbed the country’s agriculture, decreasing crop growth by a considerable amount. As a result, some farmers have expressed concern about the viability of agriculture relying only on the natural environment, which can drastically affect farmers’ profits necessary for survival. Unlike most nations around the world, this small Himalayan country uses no fossil fuels or nuclear energy to power its homes. Instead, the villagers productively use hydroelectricity generated by their abundant rivers to produce 30,000 megawatts of electricity; 28,000 megawatts more than the Bhutanese need. In order to boost the country’s GDP, they have begun to export 10,000 megawatts of electricity to India via a purpose built pipeline, thus aiding another country to adopt a clean energy source. The plan to go wholly organic will take time and considerable effort. Rather than setting an ultimate deadline, Bhutan is planning to move from region to region developing within farmers’ limits. Hopefully, the efforts of the Bhutan population will inspire other countries to look for renewable energy alternatives and live more sustainably.
“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” Mohandas K. Gandhi
inspired times issue 16 spring 2013
inspiring individuals Energy bills are soaring and many people feel disconnected from the natural environment. Benjamin Salt speaks to off-grid pioneer Nick Rosen, who shares his story and shows a genuine passion to help others make the shift to a greener future. Have you ever longed for freedom from the grid of power that underpins our lives? Free from spiralling energy bills and reliance on fossil fuels, or even just relief from hectic commuter schedules. Escaping the daily grind may seem a distant dream relegated to a small section of society, but living an off-grid life may be more attainable than you think. Eco journalist Nick Rosen has dedicated the last five years of his career attempting to show how this is an achievable goal for everyone, even you and I. Many have now had a new lease of life as fulltime off-gridders, all thanks to the words of wisdom and how-to guides contained within the pages of Nick’s best-selling book, How To Live Off-Grid. Nick, the son of a scientist, began his career back in the late ‘80s freelancing for his “local newspapers” The Times and The Guardian – but it wasn’t until the early ‘90s that his first big contribution to the canon of eco journalism was published. While working for a magazine entitled Undercurrents, he teamed up with the fashion designer Katharine Hamnett to found eco magazine Tomorrow. Despite fantastic publicity, problems with distributors meant the publication failed to reach the heights its founders had hoped for. However Tomorrow’s anti-consumerist message, pro-environmentalist articles and radical decision to omit any form of advertising sowed the seeds of what Nick would later embark upon. It was from these seeds, and a great deal of life experience, that How To Live Off-Grid first sprouted and subsequently blossomed. “It all started with me buying a place in Majorca as a second home,” says Nick. Due to his new sundrenched shack residing high in the Balearic foothills, he had to find an alternative way to power his mini paradise away from the established grid of energy. “In essence I became a part-time off-gridder; I liked being half in the system and half out of it,” he reminisces. Kitting out his home with gas bottles, early solar panels and a water tank, while using his car as an electricity source, he was able to generate enough power to run his Majorcan retreat. This in turn got him thinking, if it was possible to live a self-sufficient life on that island, what was stopping people from doing it back in the British countryside, small hamlets or even central London? It was this that inspired the book. “I realised that it was an amazing option for everybody, that anybody could do this,” recalls Nick. “You could live somewhere cheap, almost free without working as hard, without having to worry about your career or how you’re going to make a living. I wanted to tell everybody about it.” So, with the aid of his trusty campervan,
inspired times issue 16 spring 2013
he set off to explore and document the thriving off-grid subculture that was infiltrating the length and breadth of the nation. Taking in everything from eco communes beside Welsh valleys to a houseboat moored upon the River Lee in inner city London, the different types of off-gridder and their ways of implementing their own alternative power supplies were endless. “It was staggering to see how many people were living this way secretly and privately because it’s so hard to get planning permission,” recalls Nick. What his book has done is inspire a mini revolution with visible results. Many who saw going off-grid as an unachievable life-style were able to read first hand accounts of how it was possible, enticing them to also take the plunge and sever their own connections with the grid. This impact on the subculture has not been lost on Nick. “Since my book came out the number of people living around the River Lee and nearby canals in Hackney for example has gone up 10 times,” he divulges. “If you go down there now, instead of there being 20 or 30 boats there’s a couple of hundred with more arriving all the time. My book has had a direct effect on that and I’m very proud of it.” Although Nick wasn’t the first to go off-grid, he was the first to bring the phenomenon to a mass audience, something he continues to do via his position as editor of www.off-grid.net and also follow up book Off The Grid: True Independence In Modern America. The website has proven particularly popular. Acting as a community hub for the off-grid population, it is a place where people can find others to go off-grid with as well as read news and personality pieces. Under his steady stewardship the site is about to undergo a thorough relaunch, becoming more of a user’s manual on how to adopt the off-grid way of life. Looking to the future, Nick has his eyes set on campaigning and inspiring the off-grid movement further. “What I’m trying to do is bring together a team of people to make a move to offgrid living easily viable,” he reveals. “I’m in conversation with local authorities that are interested in bringing cheap housing and employment to their areas and I am trying to build a team of lawyers, architects, engineers, agriculturists and builders to try and make this a reality.” With big plans already firmly in motion and a passion for the cause still raging in his belly, take a leaf from this eco-pioneer’s book and embrace the off-grid revolution.
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