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at the heart of earth, art and spirit

March/April 2011 No. 265

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INTRINSIC VALUES Vテ,LAV HAVEL 窶「 HRH THE PRINCE OF WALES 窶「 GEORGE MONBIOT


Image: © Rose Anderson

We should always learn something from the ants. They are so small and they carry so much. We should always learn something from the fruit tree. They bow back towards the ground to give their fruit. We should learn something from everything in Nature. Selected words of wisdom from interviews with women farmers in Gharwal Himalaya

Rowan and Gorse by Rose Anderson


WELCOME

OUR CORE VALUES

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esurgence has always been about our deepest values and in this, our 45th anniversary year, the subject of those values is our particular focus. In this issue, the outspoken environmentalist George Monbiot highlights the critical difference between intrinsic and extrinsic values and suggests that for the genuine wellbeing of both people and planet Earth, we need to live by our intrinsic values. This then is the special theme running through most of the thought-provoking articles in our spring issue. For example, poet, playwright and former president of the Czech Republic Vรกclav Havel (one of the most outstanding holistic thinkers and writers of our time) urges urban planners to work with the values of place, community, neighbourhood and Nature when they are designing our cities and towns. Another poet and philosopher, Archbishop Rowan Williams, shows that we need to put ethics before economics, and when governments and business leaders are obsessed with economic growth at any cost, his message of moral economy becomes even more pertinent. In his article, fellow Christian Peter Owen Jones, radical vicar and presenter of several BBC documentaries on pilgrimages, expounds the values of home and hospitality, a refreshing point of view at a time when most countries are blindly pursuing the path of tourism. And last but not least in this series of articles on intrinsic values, Prince Charles, in his broad-ranging keynote essay, elucidates the paramount importance of ecology. Although the context of his article is Islam, respect for the environment and care for

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the Earth are values at the core of all religions and wisdom traditions. And he is right: the solution to the current environmental crisis is to restore the wisdom of restraint, respect and reverence for all life. The mainstream world of politics, commerce and media might suggest that any talk of values and ideals is meaningless when we have to live in the real world, but my response is that the world of politics and economics has been run by the realists for a long time, but what have they got to show for it? What have they achieved by being Realists? In spite of all the progress in science and technology and in spite of unprecedented economic growth over the past 60 years, these Realists have failed to solve the fundamental problems of malnutrition, hunger and war. Under their watch, humanity continues to spend a vast amount of resources on either weapons of destruction or luxuries that bring natural devastation, whilst huge numbers of men, women and children suffer from deprivation and disease. Rising population, dwindling natural resources, and the threat of global climate change are all the result of resting power in the hands of the Realists, whose legacy includes entire countries in debt while their banks are bailed out by the taxpayers. The Realists have been given ample chance to bring peace and happiness to humankind but they have utterly failed. So in these circumstances let us give the Idealists a chance. Humanity will be far better served by the intrinsic values of hospitality, humility and harmony than by the extrinsic values of success, speed and greedy self-interest. Satish Kumar

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CONTENTS No.265 March/April 2011

FRONTLINE 4 ACTION FROM THE

GRASSROOTS

UNDERCURRENTS 8 CHAMPIONS OF

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INTRINSIC VALUES Resurgence celebrates all those who share our values

10 TRANSCENDING SELF

INTEREST George Monbiot Why we should never apologise for values that create a fairer world

12 A CALL TO HUMILITY

Václav Havel The Czech playwright and former President on the need to design cities fit for humans and Nature

14 MORAL HOUSEKEEPING

Rowan Williams The Archbishop of Canterbury shares his vision for ‘correcting’ values that led to the collapse

16 PILGRIM OR TOURIST?

Peter Owen Jones Exploring the real journey we must all make

20 MUSIC FOR PEACE

Donald Reeves How the music of Bach inspires the author’s peace-building work

REGULARS 1 WELCOME

28 PROJECTIONS

50 THE AGE OF BEAUTY

Satish Kumar

Caspar Walsh

30 THE VEGETARIAN FOODIE

Jane Hughes

32 PIONEERS

Helena Drakakis

34 SLOW TRAVEL

Charles V Clark

36 NATURE WRITING

Jeremy James

38 GARDEN DESIGN

James Towillis

40 OPINION

Hector Christie

41 LETTERS

ARTS & CRAFTS KEYNOTES

42 POETRY

22 ISLAM AND THE

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ENVIRONMENT HRH The Prince of Wales We need look no further than the timeless wisdom of sacred traditions to get back on track

48 COSMIC COLOURS

Edited by Peter Abbs

44 DIRTY ART

Leah Fanning Mebane & Cea Blyth Two earth artists explain how they create colour from natural pigments

Barbara Diethelm A paint-maker shares her discovery of the deeper meanings of colour Linda Proud Celebrating the life of Botticelli

52 THE ART OF LIBERATION

Harry Eyres Reviewing Tate Britain’s Romantics Rehang exhibition

REVIEWS 54 LITTLE MAGIC

Harland Walshaw reviews Truda Lane’s Lifelines

55 ABSTRACT AFFINITIES

Philip Vann reviews Kurt Jackson: A New Genre of Landscape Painting

56 A STELLAR LIFE

Chellis Glendinning reviews Stephanie Mills’ On Gandhi’s Path

57 THINKING OUTSIDE

THE BOX Sophie Poklewski Koziell reviews Matthew Crawford’s The Case for Working with Your Hands

58 GREEN THE WORLD

John Clarke reviews Marian Van Eyk McCain’s GreenSpirit

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www.resurgence.org WEB EXCLUSIVES The Resurgence Peace Garden – created by James Towillis as part of the Gardening World Cup 2010 in Japan, which highlights the connection between Nature, world peace and sustainable living

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‘Back to Front’ gardening – Roxanna Summers introduces a new project that uses front gardens for food production

Resurgence Summer Camp 2011 Celebrating 45 years of Resurgence and 21 years of Green and Away. Join us for a weekend of talks, music, dance and crafts, with speakers Peter Owen Jones and Peter Harper. Updated programme and booking forms available online at www.resurgence.org/summercamp

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BLOGS New blogs on topical issues including Nature, science, conservation and more

59 BLUEPRINT FOR CHANGE

Matt Carmichael welcomes Juliet B. Schor’s Plenitude

60 TREADING LIGHTLY

Diana Schumacher reviews Edward Echlin’s Climate and Christ

61 SATURATED WITH SOUL

Stephan Harding reviews David Abram’s Becoming Animal

62 A HUMAN WORLD

Barbara Nussbaum introduces her book on leadership, Personal Growth African Style

A JOURNEY WITH Resurgence In each issue you will find: Frontline – action from the grassroots Undercurrents – exploring emerging ideas Keynotes – the Big Vision Regulars – turning theory into practice Arts – beauty with the Resurgence ethos Reviews – to continue the journey Members – over to you

63 A NEW LOGIC

Sara Parkin explains why ‘positive deviance’ – the theory she explores in her new book – is the only strategy left to environmentalists

MEMBERS 64 COMMUNITY PAGE

Elizabeth Wainwright

65 RESURGENCE GROUPS 66 READER OFFERS 67 JOIN RESURGENCE 68 ADVERTS FOR CONTACT INFORMATION FOR RESURGENCE OFFICES AND AGENTS, PLEASE SEE THE INSIDE BACK COVER

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Front cover: Brown hare Lepus europaeus in winter

© David Tipling/Nature Picture Library

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FRO N T L I N E  AC T I O N F RO M THE GRASSROOTS UK

STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN

The vibrant rooftop growing space in Crouch End, London

Photo: Azul-Valerie Thome

Growing food on the roof of a supermarket

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dynamic new community group has started a pioneer project growing food on the roof of its local supermarket in Crouch End, London. It all started, as most good projects do, over a cup of coffee. This one was shared between Andrew Thornton, the owner of a Budgens franchise store, and AzulValerie Thome, a committed community activist with a background in organic gardening, permaculture design and community projects. They decided to develop a model of growing food on urban flat roofs, in the hope that it would be replicated by other supermarkets and urban organisations. The first job was to have the roof surveyed to see what weight load it could bear. At the same time, delicate

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negotiations were conducted between landlord, leaseholder and franchisee. It is relatively simple to plant a seed, nurture it and harvest it; but the success

car park, protected from urban foxes by makeshift pallet fences, oblivious of the frantic background work needed for them to be lifted to their aerial home. Finally, on the 31st of May 2010, a crane lifted ten tons of free council compost onto the roof. The council also ‘retired’ 250 green recycling boxes to the project. These made ideal food-growing planters as they had holes in the bottom, allowing drainage. Wormeries and compost tumblers were also installed. The volunteers quickly planted up an orchard, vegetables, fruits, edible flowers and mushrooms. All of the food is grown to organic standards, following biodynamic rhythms. “At first the roof was a dead, cemented, lifeless place,” explains Azul, “and then within weeks it was alive and literally buzzing.” The first visitors were red-tailed bumblebees, followed quickly by honeybees, solitary bees, butterflies and a mass of ladybirds: volunteers counted 30 different insect species. Thanks to these important pollinators, within five weeks there was produce to sell in the supermarket below. The roof has a particular ecosystem – it is hotter than on the ground, but it is also windier and more exposed. Tomatoes did particularly well, and didn’t suffer from the blight that ‘ground’ gardeners complained of. Also on sale from the roof garden were mixed salad leaves, pak choi, carrots, beans, peas, spinach, radishes and courgettes. To begin with, the only access to the rooftop garden was through the supermarket and up a wobbly ladder. Later, after a ‘fundraising feast’, enough money was raised to provide a public-access scaffolding tower on the outside of the building. Now schoolchildren and other community groups are able to visit the

“...within weeks it was alive and literally buzzing” of this project also relied on powers of persuasion in order to secure the legal framework that would allow the project to unfold. Although nothing could be planted on the roof before the paperwork for health and safety, risk assessment and insurance was signed off, the volunteers couldn’t wait. In February 2010 they started their project by planting seeds in compostfilled loo-roll-cardboard plant pots. The seedlings began life in the supermarket

project and join in with regular workshops. Representatives from Marks & Spencer, The London School of Economics and Southbank Centre are among the curious who’ve come to see this marvellous, productive ecosystem in the sky. It’s estimated that there are 3 million square metres of flat-roof space suitable for green roofs in London – just think of the possibilities. foodfromthesky.org.uk

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by Sophie Poklewski Koziell

NO MORE PLAYING GOD!

UN declares moratorium on climate techno-fixes

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he latest biennial meeting of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), held in Japan last December, closed with a de facto moratorium on geoengineering projects and experiments. As a result, any private or public experimentation or adventurism intended to manipulate the planetary thermostat will now be in violation of this landmark decision. Geoengineering is the proposed large-scale manipulation of Earth’s oceans, soils and atmosphere with the intent of combating climate change. Geoengineering advocates have put forward a wide range of proposals to artificially modify these ecosystems to address climate change, including putting sulphate particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect the sun, adding iron particles to the oceans to grow carbon dioxide-absorbing plankton, and injecting silver iodide into clouds to produce rain. The UN decision has been hailed by many environmental groups as a victory for common sense and precaution. However, some delegations are concerned that the interim definition of geoengineering is too narrow because it does not include carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. Before the next CBD meeting there will be ample opportunity to consider these questions in more detail – but the good news is that climate techno-fixes are now firmly on the UN agenda.

With thanks to www.ecologicalinternet.org

A SEA IS REVIVED

A dam brings good news

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en years ago it seemed that the Aral Sea was a wasteland. The Soviet Union’s decision to divert the Aral’s feeder rivers to irrigate cotton farms had turned an area the size of Ireland into a dust bowl. There was no water, no fish and no jobs. It was sadly a textbook case of a human-made environmental catastrophe. However, five years after the construction of a dam, fresh river water is now filling up the northern part of the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan (known as ‘The Small Aral Sea’). Large sections of barren seabed have become resubmerged, and experts are amazed that the water has reached the target depth of 42 metres only a year after the completion of the dam. Native fish have quickly restocked the sea, and the local fishing industry has been revived. The return of the water, covering the dusty seabed, has also meant a great reduction in respiratory problems and throat cancer in the region.

Remote Nepali mountain village

Photo: www.3sistersadventure.com

SISTER ACT

An all-women trekking agency discovers how empowering Nepali women is good for business

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ixteen years ago three Nepali sisters, Lucky, Dicky and Nicky Chhetri, founded 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking with a view to empowering and employing rural women in adventure travel. Inspired by their love of the mountains and the strength they gained from mountaineering, they decided to train women as guides. Via their local NGO, Empowering Women of Nepal, 3 Sisters offers unprecedented opportunities for women from poor, remote mountainous regions to become confident, self-sufficient and successful through adventure tourism. So far over 600 women have attended their women’s trekking guide training. 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking provides foreign women travellers with the opportunity to connect with Nepali women, to travel free from male harassment, and to know that their fees support the independence of Nepali women. Unlike other Nepalis involved in tourism, the 3 Sisters guides and porters aren’t overburdened or ill equipped. Besides on-the-job training, they receive insurance, a provident fund and trekking equipment. Their children are given tuition fees for school, and there is a microfinance system for loans. Recently the project was recognised for its valuable work and was invited to take part in a marketing training scheme organised by Dutch agency SNV, the UN Environment Programme and Nepal Tourism Board. The scheme gave the 3 Sisters project the opportunity to network outside Nepal and to meet other members of the growing ‘responsible travel’ community. “We were doing all these ‘responsible’ things but we had no idea that they had a business value and that we could promote them. You see, the tourist eye sees differently from our eyes, and we just didn’t think in that way before,” says Lucky. www.3sistersadventure.com

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SUTTON LIFE CENTRE

An innovative new eco-building to inspire young people

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pioneering new learning centre, Sutton Life Centre, has opened in South London. The building has been awarded the highest possible environmental rating for its use of sustainably sourced building materials and its super-insulation. In addition, a carbon-neutral biomass boiler heats the building, and supplements an earth-tube system that helps to warm the building

in the winter and cool it in the summer. Water for the toilets and plants is supplied by harvested rainwater, and highefficiency lighting is installed throughout. The centre contains an indoor street resembling a movie set, and a multimedia studio where 360° video images can be projected onto the walls to create a range of virtual worlds, from onrushing trains to the destruction

of a rainforest. The Life Centre also houses a library, community rooms, a youth centre, Sutton’s only outdoor climbing wall, an eco-garden and allweather sports pitches. It is predicted that thousands of children will visit the centre, where ‘green’ lessons will be part of the experience. www.suttonlifecentre.org

BIRCHWOOD SPECIALIST

A rare sawfly is found at a Caledonian Forest conservation site

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onservation charity Trees for Life announced in November last year that it had discovered a rare species of sawfly that had never previously been recorded in the UK. The specimen was collected on the Dundreggan Estate in Glen Moriston, Invernessshire. The highland estate is a key site in Trees for Life’s awardwinning work to restore Scotland’s Caledonian Forest. It is notable for its biodiversity, and over 50 specimens that are listed as priorities for conservation in the UK have been found there. This particular sawfly species is also thought to be extremely rare in Europe, having been found only in Finland and Latvia. It is considered to be a true northern European birchwood

specialist, and its discovery at Glen Moriston illustrates the importance of the estate’s birch-juniper woodland, which is amongst the best of its type in Scotland. The discovery of the sawfly is the latest in a string of finds at the site. These include a mining bee thought to have been extinct in Scotland since 1949, and the golden horsefly, which had only been seen twice in Scotland since 1923 until it was spotted in Dundreggan in 2008. www.treesforlife.org.uk Courtesy: www.positivenews.org.uk

BACK FROM THE BRINK

Conservation efforts save rare snake

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n the mid-1990s there were only 50 Antiguan racer snakes left in the wild. Scientists discovered a small colony on Great Bird Island, off the coast of Antigua, and realised that they were in danger of becoming extinct. A conservation programme was quickly launched, and 15 years later it is celebrating its success. It appears that two species introduced to the island by humans – the mongoose and the black rat – were responsible for the decline of the Antiguan racer snake. Humans also played their own part, as the defenceless snakes were wrongly seen as a threat. By raising awareness of the snakes, removing rats and mongooses from the islands and carrying out a pioneering reintroduction programme, the snake population has increased tenfold. Remarkably the snake conservation efforts have also benefited other native wildlife species that share the same habitat: the number of birds has increased thirty-fold, sea turtles and lizards have benefited from reduced predation of their eggs by rats, and even the plant life has improved. www.antiguanracer.org

Antiguan racer snake

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Photo: Jenny Daltry/www.fauna-flora.org

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Children from New Delhi send a message to Cancún

Photo: © Daniel Dancer

GLOBAL

LARGE AS LIFE Campaigning art you can see from space

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n November 2010, on the eve of the UN climate change meetings in Cancún, Mexico, 350 Earth held the world’s first global climate art exhibition. Massive public art installations were made in over a dozen places across the globe, large enough to be seen from space. Most of the art projects were photographed by satellites moving at 17,000 miles per hour nearly 400 miles above the Earth, giving organisers a window of only a few minutes to make sure their installation was a success. In Spain, a giant representation of the face of a young girl appeared on the sands of the Delta del Ebro. In Mexico City, thousands of people clustered together to form a ‘human hurricane’.

The arresting image represented Mexico’s vulnerability to climate change impacts such as the devastating hurricanes that hit the country last year. In New Delhi, the second-largest city in the world, over 3,000 schoolchildren worked with aerial artist Daniel Dancer to form an image of a giant elephant. The elephant is the national heritage animal of India, worshipped in the form of Ganesha, known as ‘the remover of all obstacles’. However, the elephant image also urges world leaders not to ignore ‘the elephant in the room’: climate change. www.earth.350.org Sophie Poklewski Koziell is an Associate Editor of Resurgence.

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UN D E R C U R R E N T S  C H A M P I ONS OF INTRINSIC VALUES

George Monbiot

Fiona Reynolds

Ellen MacArthur

HRH The Prince of Wales (and HRH Prince William)

Photos: George Monbiot – Nigel Howard/Associated Newspapers/Rex Features; Ellen MacArthur – onEdition; Caroline Lucas – Stuart Clarke/Rex Features;

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Caroline Lucas Peter Owen Jones

Annie Lennox Václav Havel

To mark our 45th anniversary we celebrate all champions of intrinsic values, including these recent contributors to the magazine

Rowan Williams

Vandana Shiva

Annie Lennox – NBCUPHOTOBANK/Rex Features; The Prince of Wales – Les Wilson/Rex Features; Peter Owen Jones – Alan Burles; Rowan Williams – ACNS/Jim Rosenthal

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UN D E R C U R R E N T S ď Ž I N T R I N S IC VALUES

Print: Jay Luttman-Johnson

Transcending Self-interest We must lead the shift from extrinsic to intrinsic values, and start by not apologising for the policies that create a fairer and kinder world, writes George Monbiot

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o here we are, forming an orderly queue at the slaughterhouse gate. The punishment of the poor for the errors of the rich, the abandonment of universalism, the dismantling of the shelter the state provides: apart from a few small protests, none of this has yet brought us out fighting. The acceptance of policies that counteract our interests remains the pervasive mystery of the 21st century. In the United States, blue-collar workers angrily demand that they be left without health care, and insist that millionaires should pay less tax. In the UK we appear ready to abandon the social progress for which our ancestors risked their lives, with barely a mutter of protest. What has happened to us? The answer, I think, is provided by probably the most interesting report I read last year. Common Cause: The Case for Working with our Cultural Values, written by Tom Crompton of the environment group WWF, examines a series of fascinating recent advances in the field of psychology, and offers a remedy to the blight that now afflicts every good cause from welfare to climate change. Progressives have been suckers for a myth of human cognition, which Tom Crompton labels the Enlightenment Model. This holds that people make rational decisions by assessing facts. All that has to be done to persuade people is to lay out the data: they will then use it to decide which options best support their interests and desires. But a host of psychological experiments have shown that it simply doesn’t work like this. Instead of performing a rational cost-benefit analysis, we accept only that

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information which confirms our identity and values, rejecting any of the information that conflicts with them. In other words, we mould our thinking around our social identity, protecting it from serious challenge, and so confronting people with inconvenient facts is likely only to harden their resistance to change. Our social identity is shaped by values that psychologists classify as either extrinsic or intrinsic. Extrinsic values concern status and self-advancement. People with a strong set of extrinsic values fixate on how others see them. They cherish financial success, image and fame. Intrinsic values concern relationships with friends, family and community, and selfacceptance. Those who have a strong set of intrinsic values are not dependent on praise or rewards from other people. They have beliefs that transcend their self-interest. Few people are all extrinsic or all intrinsic; our social identity is more usually formed by a mixture of values. But what psychological tests in nearly 70 countries do show is that values cluster together in remarkably consistent patterns. Those who strongly value financial success, for example, have less empathy, stronger manipulative tendencies, a stronger attraction to hierarchy and inequality, stronger prejudices towards strangers and less concern about human rights and the environment. Those who have a strong sense of self-acceptance have more empathy and a greater concern about human rights, social justice and the environment. These values suppress each other: the stronger someone’s extrinsic aspirations, the weaker his or her intrinsic goals. Of course we are not born with our values; they are shaped by our social environment. By changing our perception of what is normal and acceptable, politics alters our minds as much as our circumstances. Free, universal health provision, for example, tends to reinforce intrinsic values. Shutting the poor out of health care normalises inequality, reinforcing extrinsic values. The sharp shift to the right, which in the UK began with Margaret Thatcher and persisted under Blair and Brown – all of whose governments emphasised the virtues of competition, the market and financial success – has changed our values. The British Social Attitudes survey, for example, shows a sharp fall over this period in public support for policies that redistribute wealth and opportunity. And this shift has been reinforced by advertising and the media. The media’s fascination with power politics, its ‘Rich Lists’, its catalogues of the 100 most powerful, influential, intelligent or beautiful people, its obsessive promotion of celebrity, fashion, fast cars, expensive holidays: all these inculcate extrinsic values. By generating feelings of insecurity and inadequacy – which means reducing self-acceptance – they also suppress intrinsic goals. Advertisers, who employ large numbers of psychologists, are well aware of this. Crompton quotes Guy Murphy, global planning director for the marketing company JWT. Marketers, Murphy says, “should see themselves as trying to manipulate culture; being social engineers, not brand managers; manipulating cultural forces, not brand impressions”. The more they foster extrinsic values, the easier it is to sell their products. Right-wing politicians have also, instinctively, understood the importance of values in changing the political map. Thatcher famously remarked that “economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul”. Conservatives in the United States generally avoid debating facts and figures. Instead they frame

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issues in ways that both appeal to and reinforce extrinsic values. Every year, through mechanisms that are rarely visible and seldom discussed, the space in which progressive ideas can flourish shrinks a little more. And the progressive response to this trend has been disastrous. Instead of confronting this shift in values, we have sought to adapt to it. Once-progressive political parties have tried to

Extrinsic values concern status and self-advancement. Intrinsic values concern relationships with friends, family and community, and self-acceptance appease altered public attitudes: think of all those New Labour appeals to Middle England, which was often just a code for self-interest. In doing so they endorse and legitimise extrinsic values. Many greens and social justice campaigners have also tried to reach people by appealing to self-interest: explaining how, for example, relieving poverty in the developing world will build a market for British products, or suggesting that, by buying a hybrid car, you can impress your friends and enhance your social status. This tactic also strengthens extrinsic values, making future campaigns even less likely to succeed. Green consumerism has been a catastrophic mistake. Common Cause proposes a simple remedy: that we stop seeking to bury our values, and instead explain and champion them. Progressive campaigners, it suggests, should help to foster an understanding of the psychology that informs political change and show how it has been manipulated. They should also come together to challenge forces – particularly the advertising industry – that make us insecure and selfish. The leader of Britain’s Labour Party, Ed Miliband, appears to understand this need. He told last year’s Labour conference that he wants “to change our society so that it values community and family, not just work” and “to change our foreign policy so that it’s always based on values, not just alliances…We must shed old thinking and stand up for those who believe there is more to life than the bottom line.” But there’s a paradox here, which means that we cannot rely on politicians to drive these changes. Those who succeed in politics are, by definition, people who prioritise extrinsic values. Their ambition must supplant peace of mind, family life, friendship – and even brotherly love! So we must lead this shift ourselves. People with strong intrinsic values must cease to be embarrassed by them. We should argue for the policies we want, not on the grounds of expediency but on the grounds that they are empathetic and kind; and against others, on the grounds that they are selfish and cruel. In asserting our values we can then become the change we want to see. This is an edited version of an article published in George Monbiot’s weekly column in The Guardian newspaper. See also www.monbiot.com

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UN D E R C U R R E N T S  U R B A N VALUES

A Call to

Humility

The contemporary world needs to free itself from pride and start ‘listening’. Only then will we design cities fit for people and Nature, says Václav Havel

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ears ago when I used to drive by car from Prague to our country cottage in Eastern Bohemia, the journey from the city centre to the sign that marked the city limits took about 15 minutes, after which came meadows, forests, fields and villages. These days the exact same journey takes a good 40 minutes or more, and actually, it is impossible to know whether I have left the city or not. What was until recently clearly recognisable as the city is now losing its boundaries and with them its identity. It has become a huge overgrown ring of something I can’t find a word for. It is not a city (as I understand the term), nor suburbs, let alone a village. Apart from anything else it lacks streets or squares. There is just a random scattering of enormous single-storey warehouses, supermarkets, hypermarkets, car and furniture marts, petrol stations, eateries, gigantic car parks, isolated high-rise blocks to be let as offices, depots of every kind, and collections of family homes that are admittedly close together but are otherwise desperately remote. And in between all that – and this is something that bothers me most of all – are large tracts of land that aren’t anything, by which I mean that they’re not meadows, fields, woods, jungle or meaningful human settlements. Here and there, in a space that is hard to define, one can find an architecturally beautiful or original building, but it is as solitary as the proverbial tomb – it is unconnected with anything else; it is not adjacent to anything or even remote from anything; it simply stands there. The fact is that our cities are being permitted without control to destroy the surrounding landscape along with its Nature, replacing it with some sort of gigantic agglomeration that renders life nondescript. So where has all this woeful development come from, and why does it go on getting worse? How is it possible that humans treat in such a senseless fashion both the landscape that surrounds them and the very planet they have been given to inhabit? We know that we are behaving in a suicidal manner, yet we go on doing it. How can that be? We are living in the first truly global civilisation. This means that whatever comes into existence can very quickly span the whole world. We are also living in the first atheistic civilisation – in other

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Connected communities

words, a civilisation that has lost its connection with the infinite and eternity. For that reason it prefers short-term profit to long-term gain. However, the most dangerous aspect of this global atheistic civilisation is its pride. The pride of someone who is driven by the very logic of his wealth to stop respecting the contribution of Nature and our forebears, to stop respecting it on principle and respect it only as a further potential source of profit. And indeed, why should a developer go to the trouble of building a warehouse with several storeys when he can have as much land as he wants and can therefore build as many single-storey warehouses as he likes? Why should he worry about whether his building suits the locality in which it is built, so long as it can be reached by the shortest route and can boast a gigantic car park beside it? What is it to him that between his site and his neighbour’s there is a wasteland? And what is it to him, after all, that from an aeroplane the city more and more resembles a tumour metastasising in all directions? Why should he get worked up

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Image:© Mercedes McDonald/Images.com/Corbis

over a few dozen hectares that he carves out of the soil that many still regard as the natural framework of their homeland? I sense behind all of this not only a globally spreading shortsightedness, but also the swollen self-consciousness of this civilisation, whose basic attributes include the supercilious idea that we know everything and that what we don’t yet know we’ll soon find out because we know how to go about it. We are convinced that this supposed omniscience of ours, which proclaims the staggering progress of science and technology and rational knowledge in general, permits us to serve anything that is demonstrably useful, or that is simply a source of measurable profit; anything that induces growth and more growth and still more growth, including the growth of agglomerations. But with the cult of measurable profit, proven progress and visible usefulness disappears respect for mystery and along with it humble reverence for everything we shall never measure and know, not to mention the vexed question of the infinite and eternal, which were until recently the most important horizons of our actions.

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We have totally forgotten what all previous civilisations knew: that nothing is self-evident. I believe that the recent financial and economic crisis was of great importance and that in its ultimate essence it was actually a very edifying signal to the contemporary world. Most economists relied directly or indirectly on the idea that the world, including human conduct, is more or less understandable, scientifically describable and hence predictable. Market economics and its entire legal framework counted on our knowing what it means to be human and what aims we pursue, on understanding the logic behind the actions of banks or firms, what the shareholding public does and what one may expect from some particular individual or community. And all of a sudden none of that applied. Irrationality leered at us from all the stock-exchange screens. And even the most fundamentalist economists, who – having intimate access to the truth – had been convinced the invisible hand of the market knew what it was doing, had suddenly to admit that they had been taken by surprise. I hope and trust that the elites of today’s world will realise what this signal is telling us. In fact it is nothing extraordinary, nothing that a perceptive person did not know long ago. It is a warning against the disproportionate self-assurance and pride of modern civilisation. Human behaviour is not totally explicable as many inventors of economic theories and concepts believe; and the behaviour of firms or institutions or entire communities is even less so. Naturally, after this crisis a thousand and one theorists will emerge to describe precisely how and why it happened and how to prevent it happening in future. But this will not be a sign that they have understood the message that the crisis sent us. The opposite, more likely: it will simply be a further emanation of that disproportionate self-assurance that I have been speaking of. I regard the recent crisis as a very small and very inconspicuous call to humility. A small and inconspicuous challenge for us not to take everything automatically for granted. Strange things are happening and will happen. Not to bring oneself to admit it is the path to hell. Strangeness, unnaturalness, mystery, inconceivability have been shifted out of the world of serious thought into the dubious closets of suspicious people. Until they are released and allowed to return to our minds, things will not go well. The modern pride that I refer to did not manifest itself in architecture only recently. In the interwar period many otherwise brilliant avant-garde architects already shared the opinion that confident and rational reflection was the key to a new approach to human settlement. And so they started planning various happy cities with separate zones for housing, sport, entertainment, commerce and hospitality, all linked by a logical infrastructure. Those architects had succumbed to the aberrant notion that an enlightened brain is capable of devising the ideal city. Nothing of the sort was created, however. Bold urban projects proved to be one thing, while life turned out to be something else.

Václav Havel is a playwright and politician. He was President of the Czech Republic and is a co-founder of Forum 2000. This article is based on the speech he gave in 2009 at the Forum’s fourteenth annual conference, where the main topic was Architecture and Urbanism. www.forum2000.cz

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UN D E R C U R R E N T S  E C O N O MIC VALUES

MORAL HOUSEKEEPING Economics is simply a background for moral values. Get it wrong, and social relations will collapse, warns Rowan Williams

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he contribution of theology to economic decision-making is not only about raising questions concerning the common good; questions to do with how this or that policy grants or withholds liberty for the most disadvantaged. These are obviously necessary matters, and a sound theological stress on mutuality, on the balance of dependence and gift is crucial to our public discussion of economics. But we need also to look with the greatest of care at what is being assumed and what is being actively promoted by our economic practices about human motivation, about character and integrity. This impacts of course on the integrity of business practice; but it also has to do with assumptions

Economic activity is something people do, one kind of activity among others; and as such it is subject to the same moral considerations as all other activities about competition, about the priority of work over family, about what advertising appeals to and what behaviour is rewarded. If we find, as a good many commentators and researchers have observed in recent years, that working practices regularly reward behaviour that is undermining of family life, driven or obsessive, relentlessly competitive and adversarial, we have some questions to ask. The virtuous life still stands as a model of inhabiting the world in a way that seeks not to damage or to control or to avoid cost, but to live what some would call an ‘adult’ human life – although in fact we can learn quite a lot about it from children and from others who do not have to justify themselves in the world of competitive production. We urgently need to dust off the ‘language of

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virtue’ and try and understand why we have left ourselves so generally deprived of models for inhabiting the world and this means rescuing the concept of civic virtue and connecting it with individual moral wellbeing; including reclaiming the idea that public life is a possible vocation for the morally serious person. The discussion we have embarked on here is not simply about the theological grounds for a more just social order, though it is at least that; it is also a matter of grasping that ‘wellbeing’ involves the capacity, in the words that some contemporary philosophers like to use, of bearing one’s own scrutiny – being able to look at yourself without despair or contempt. This is not at all the same as looking at yourself with complacency or self-congratulation. It is to do with developing a discerning self-awareness that is awake to possible corruptions, able to ask questions of all sorts of emotional and self-directed impulses, and capable of developing habits of honest self-examination. It depends not on the confidence of getting or having got things right but on the confidence that it is possible steadily to expose yourself to the truth, whatever your repeated failures to live in and through it. Wellbeing entails a dimension of hopeful honesty which keeps alive the conviction that learning and change are real in human life and that there can be a story to be told that will hold a life together with some sort of coherence. And, so the claim goes, if this can be nurtured and maintained, it is the necessary condition for any public involvement that does not collapse into managerial efforts to balance warring group interests. Personal virtue liberates people for civic virtue. Not that ‘virtuous’ civic life thereby becomes easy or its choices obvious and uncontroversial; but critical and self-critical imagination is acknowledged as an

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Life beyond the balance sheet

Image: © ImageZoo/Corbis

essential aspect of the political enterprise. As well as working for a global economic order that is just and mutual, we need habits in the actual workings of the financial ‘industry’ that do not destroy discerning self-awareness and the capacity for humane relationships. If the nourishing of personal virtue is one of the things that enable a different kind of politics, then in turn political and macro-economic decisions should have in view the degree to which they either support or undermine

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the possibilities of virtuous life for particular persons and their families and small-scale communities. Economic activity is something people do, one kind of activity among others; and as such it is subject to the same moral considerations as all other activities. It has to be thought about in connection with what we actively want for our humanity. And questions about what we want will take us beyond ‘pure’ economic categories just as surely as talking seriously about politics or technology will take us outside a narrowly specialised discourse. Human life is indeed a tapestry of diverse activities, not reducible to each other. It is not the case that all motivation is ‘really’ economic, that all relations are actually to do with exchange and the search for profit. Yet it can be said with some reason that economics in the sense of housekeeping is a background for other things; and because of that it is particularly important to keep an eye on its moral contours. Get this wrong and many other things go wrong, in respect of individual character as well as social relations. Thus we are bound to look for the sort of language that will keep our imagination and our critical faculties alive in this enterprise; that will keep us alert to the dangers of all sorts of reductionism. Theology in one way does represent a ‘separate’ frame of reference, one that doesn’t at all depend on how things turn out in this world for its system of values. That’s why it is not in competition with other sorts of discourse. It would be a serious mistake to claim that there were exhaustive theological ‘explanations’ for this or that piece of behaviour which could not be true if you accepted psychological or economic or neurological accounts. Yet equally theological descriptions of human behaviour are not simply an optional gloss on the iron world of fact. They describe behaviour in relation to the agency on which everything depends, the intelligent love which grounds and preserves all finite interactions. They describe where in the scheme of reality this or that action, choice or policy belongs, and thus they direct what we can say about its value and also indicate where we may draw resources for following or resisting certain possibilities. They change what can be said and imagined about humanity. This is why theology is so important – so indispensable, a believer would say – a register for talking about such a range of activities. It recalls us to the idea that what makes humanity human is completely independent of anyone’s judgements of failure or success, profit or loss. It is sheer gift – sheer love, in Christian terms. And if the universe itself is founded on this, there will be no sustainable human society for long if this goes unrecognised. This is an extract from the book Crisis and Recovery by Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Larry Elliott, published by Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. ISBN: 9780230252141

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UN D E R C U R R E N T S  T H E VA L UE OF THE JOURNEY

PILGRIM OR TOURIST?

Every act of travel is a journey into an intimate landscape, but that response of intimacy is earthed in the pilgrim, not in the tourist, writes Peter Owen Jones

Mary’s Guest Room by Pam Ingalls

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Image:© Pam Ingalls/Corbis

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his time last year I was walking towards Hartland to meet Satish and sleeping in churches and barns. The year before last I was sent on a tour of the planet by the BBC for a programme called Around the World in 80 Faiths, and the year before that I spent some time alone in the desert in Egypt and lived for a month with sadhus in India. So this year I thought it was high time I took a holiday. I booked a flight to Santorini, Greece. I thought I would sort out a room when I arrived. I took the train to Gatwick Airport from my nearest station, found the check-in desk and waited my turn in line. But the nearer I moved to the front, the more uneasy I became and just before it was my turn I slipped under the barrier and walked back through the airport to the station and took the next train home. On the platform I met someone from my home village and confessed what I had just done. He looked me in the eye and declared that he would rather be dragged through the latrines of Glastonbury on the fourth day than get on an aeroplane. I returned home, unpacked my shorts and headed off to the nearest beach, where I lay down on the shingle and watched my plane fly off before falling asleep for three hours. I still don’t know why I did it but it gave me a window to think about the notion of why we need to get away to relax, and the more I considered it, the more perverse and insubstantial it became. There is something deep within most of us that is continually drawn by this distance, and the history of humanity bears this out in the slow exodus from Africa. What our ancestors knew was that over that hill there had never been a human being before, and for huntergatherers that meant untouched foraging and hunting where they were guaranteed to be the first to the food. Maybe it was this that drove us on into the far reaches of the tundra, and over miles of ocean in boats no bigger than tables. The risks were so extraordinary that our ancestors might as well have been going to the moon, and we can only admire their incredible tenacity and spirit. And still within us there is that urge to explore beyond. Do you remember doing it as a child? I do, and what is important to remember is that whilst as adults we may think we know our surroundings, children know that they don’t. I still remember the thrill of setting out one morning from my home to go beyond the furthest place in the fields behind my house that I had ever been before, to go into what were for me the unknown woods

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and fields. What perhaps the computer age has taken most from our children (and I notice it in my own children) is the calling to explore. Yes, the internet does give us the world at our fingertips, but it is a world without skies! What drove the purpose of travel after human beings had found so much of the planet was trade, and that remains true today; it is the act of making money that forms the framework for world travel, whether that is business travel or tourism, and in any event there is, as far as I can see, barely any space between them now. We are effectively charged to visit most countries – it’s called a visa. And when we do travel, we are not guests but tourists, and as a result we have chosen to pay for accommodation rather than accept true hospitality. Within the Islamic faith there is a decree that the traveller is to be housed and fed for three days without charge, and, believe it or not, Christians too are supposed to offer the traveller food and rest. I now feel that with each new hotel we build we lose another drop of the milk of human kindness. The idea of luxury – of paying to be pampered – has been so very damaging to all of our humanity. Take a good long look at so-called luxury: it is cold, so cold. Those long lines of loveless ‘palaces’ strung out along some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The guest room should be the most important room in all of our houses. Then over the hill, again in the distance, there in the folds of the hills is paradise. Paradise is a very powerful and beautiful idea within the human heart and psyche. Pilgrims are in fact journeying always towards it, with each step the world becoming brighter, more vivid and more mysterious. For those of us living in beautiful rain-soaked England, paradise is presented as a tropical beach with coconut palms gently leaning over the white sand beside an aquamarine sea. And there just above the beach is that little bananaleaf-roofed house where happy people live far away from the land of winter. Have you been to paradise? Have you been to that beach? I saw it as a child in so many books, and as a man I went there. You’ll find paradise on the island of Tanna in the Vanuatu island chain, a four-hour flight from the east coast of Australia. Tanna is the most southerly island, and it has a live volcano. What I loved about visiting the volcano was the total absence of any healthand-safety notices! The winding and rutted track led up through increasingly vegetationless land, where sulphurous smoke was leaching through the soil. And then to the rim of the

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crater, which every three minutes would shower lava high above us. Captain Cook was the first European to visit Tanna, mooring his ship in Resolution Bay, where the entire male population of the island lined up on the beach and mooned at him. (He chose not to go ashore.) At one end of Resolution Bay lies that village – there, just behind the sand: small houses with roughly thatched roofs. There is no running water and no sanitation, there are no young people left (they have all gone to the main town on the island or further afield), and the poverty can be measured in flies. When we in the West travel we take the West with us – we take our houses and our cars and our televisions and our discotheques and our shoes and our cameras. We carry all of that wherever we go, and we sometimes transplant what we think we need in somebody else’s garden. The Japanese have built an airport on Tanna, and a German company has built a hotel. Not that any of the men and women living on the island could ever afford to fly or to eat in the hotel’s dining room. I’m not so sure we are exploring, really. I think we are still simply looking for food and hoping to trade. And as long as we are doing that, yes, we will see the coral and we will drink in the bars, but we will miss the miracle of intimacy because we are not being intimate with what we are looking at. We are taking pictures and moving on; we are looking but we are not seeing. In truth, wherever we go we are immersed into the intimate strands of where we are, making every act of travel a journey into an intimate landscape. But the response of intimacy is earthed in the pilgrim, not in the tourist. The traveller perhaps journeys towards the pilgrim. We now live in a world where we still have to travel to find food, and more and more of our lives are made what they are by journeys that other people have made on our behalf: the journey of the orange, the journey of the laptop, the journey of rice and peanuts. Very little of what we have comes from the land that surrounds us. But in that sense, with everything now brought to our door, why do we still travel? What are we looking for and hoping to find? The idea of a holiday is really so very strange: the notion that we could find rest and peace and excitement and new

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colours and new seas. It is the same sun that sets in Santorini as sets in the UK, and the sea is one sea simply called by different names. We travel to get away from our lives here – our ‘being us here’. We travel in part still in the search for paradise, but also because when we take ourselves to a new place, somehow a little

until we can see the rain as wonderful, we will never appreciate all the finery of sunshine. Are we not in danger of being imprisoned by the very system that we are told is there to keep us free? Free on what and whose terms? The travel industry offers us happiness paid for by misery. One week’s excitement

We will never see the beauty of somewhere else until we have realised the beauty of where we are bit of what is new sinks in, and when we go away, the relief and the release can be quite incredible. I would just ask for some breathing space now. There is so little time in our society to reflect on what we have created and what we are creating. We have become totally enslaved by money and held to ransom by ‘the markets’ and it is as if all of us have surrendered to that way of thinking. And this is where we need a completely new political language – a language that is fluent in intimacy and awake enough to know that each act is an act of creation. So, as I said, I didn’t get the plane. I stayed home. One of the greatest illusions we still buy into is that paradise is there beyond the horizon. If you spoke to all who visit the South Downs, where I live, you would learn that they come here to find for a while what it is I go to Greece for. So we are leaving to find ‘it’ and in so doing have forgotten we are already part of ‘it’ – it’s here we live in ‘it’. But for as long as we are content to buy into the illusion that it is elsewhere, we will never realise it here. And if our lives are so dull, so mundane and so bound by the demands of money that we have to leave just for a week’s release, then something is terribly wrong with the manner in which we are living. It is a madness that a Spanish waiter will go to Padstow to stay in a small hotel for a week and be waited on by a man who is leaving the following week for Spain to be waited on by him. What is going on? We will never see the beauty of somewhere else until we have realised the beauty of where we are. If we believe we have to travel to a hammock in Mexico to find peace, the truth is we will never be at peace where we are. And

in exchange for forty weeks of drudgery. Of course I applaud the idea of someone staying in a hotel or a community that is centred and living on ecological principles, and the more of these, the better. In a sense that’s my greatest hope – that we go away and experience something of a greater humanity to all life and return with a heart full of fine intentions and changed by the experience, which is one of the greatest gifts of the pilgrim. We need a new political language, but I don’t expect that to come from the politicians. It needs to be spoken by all of us. What is missing is the act of taking care of the traveller: a culture of hospitality that has been so broken by our collective surrender to the mass market. I am a Christian and for me there is a different type of mass – it is a beautiful word called ‘communion’, and the true pilgrim is journeying towards a conscious state of communion. I feel that the experience of the state of communion is where we are changed, and it is the journey into communion that we have all begun. Resurgence is a magazine about the new communion – the state of communion. The green revolution that is coming cannot just be about the way we treat the planet: it has to offer not only a new political language but also a new social paradigm. Part of that invites all of us to become better hosts, taking better care of each other. As I said, the guest room should be the most blessed room in our homes. Peter Owen Jones is an Anglican priest who has presented various BBC series including Around the World in 80 Faiths, How to Live a Simple Life, and Extreme Pilgrim. This article is based on a talk he gave at the Pilgrim or Tourist? Resurgence event last October. He will be speaking at the Resurgence Summer Camp 2011. For details see www.resurgence.org/summercamp

March/April 2011


The river never drinks its own water. The tree never tastes its own fruit. The field never consumes its own harvest. They selflessly strive for the wellbeing of all those around them. – A proverb from Rajasthan

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UN D E R C U R R E N T S  I N S P I R ATION

MUSIC FOR

PEACE Donald Reeves explores how the complex music of Bach inspires his peace-building work in Bosnia

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fter eighteen years as Rector of St James’s, Piccadilly, I made it a life’s project to learn to play all the music Bach wrote for the organ – an unrealistic ambition, as the work of peace-building has since occupied all my time. In 2000, I founded The Soul of Europe with a group of friends, to help those in post-war situations realise Nelson Mandela’s words, “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” Peace-building is rather like a journey towards an everreceding horizon. In this journey we are called to imagine ourselves in a relationship with our enemies. Peace-building is a vocation; not so much a goal to be pursued as a calling to be heard. It is a prompting born out of a capacity to bring to both something unforeseen, which suggests a shared future into which former enemies walk together towards a horizon striving for community. These lofty ideas informed my work in Bosnia, as a group of us encouraged the rebuilding of a Sinan mosque in Banja Luka, one of 15 destroyed in the Bosnian War. This work was to be a sign of Muslim–Christian collaboration. Later we responded to an invitation by the owners of a mine in Omarska, which had been used as a killing camp, to bring the survivors – all Muslim – together with Bosnian Serbs to agree on a memorial for those murdered there during the first years of the war. Now in Kosovo we are being invited to bring together Orthodox Serbs in the monasteries of Dec˘ani and Pec´ with the Kosovo Albanians who live around them. The monasteries stand isolated in a country that was once part of Serbia. These religious communities feel threatened and monks and nuns travel with armed escorts. It is, of course, unacceptable that religious communities should live like this.

While involved in these tricky endeavours I have persisted with Bach. The prompting I have described is nourished by the music I play. Playing the music changes the way in which I see the world. It redresses the balance from a less bleak view of human affairs to a more sane and hopeful perspective. In peace-building this means tackling the long process of dismantling the ‘victim’ mentality, shared by both those who suffered and by those who inflicted pain, helping those caught up in the traumas of conflict, still being waged years after the war ended, and in addressing the ignorance and cynicism of international bureaucrats. Bach’s organ music is immeasurably lifeenhancing; saturated with intimations of hope. Listening to music is one thing; playing it oneself is another; performing for others yet another again. After years of impatience with technical difficulties that pepper Bach’s scores, I am now realising that learning to overcome these in order to perform them is like opening the door within a house containing many treasures. As each difficulty is overcome, more or less, and complex passages begin to feel safe under fingers and feet, so more doors open, each one reaching deeper into the heart of the music, tracking the stream of Bach’s extraordinary genius to its source. The source of creativity is an undiscovered country. Virginia Woolf said: “We do not know our own souls, let alone the souls of others. Human beings do not go hand in hand the whole stretch of the way. There is virgin forest in each; a snowfield where even the print of bird’s feet is unknown.” But it is possible to get close. In Albert Schweitzer’s seminal study of Bach published in 1911, he writes to those who are performing Bach’s cantatas

Bach’s music is a testimony to the gift of hope for the human spirit

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March/April 2011


Leger, Abstract Art, 1930 (oil on card) by Wassily Kandinsky Musee National d’Art Moderne, Paris/The Bridgeman Art Library/© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2011

(but true for organists also): “Only he who sinks himself in the emotional world of Bach, who lives and thinks with him, who is simple and modest as he, is in a position to perform him properly.” At present I am immersed in the Great Eighteen Chorale Preludes Bach completed in Leipzig towards the end of his life. In the Lutheran tradition the congregation sit while singing and listen first to the improvisation, a chorale prelude, which leads into the hymn. Bach inherited and extended this tradition. Shortly before he died he collected, revised and rewrote a selection of chorale preludes originally composed some 20 years earlier. The average length of each piece is

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five minutes. They are miniatures in length only. With astonishing condensed complexity yet emotional directness Bach illustrates the words of Lutheran hymns; he empathises with the words. “To God the glory” and “Save me, Jesus” are scrawled across the manuscripts. The music transcends Lutheranism. It is not necessary to be a believer to appreciate the music; however, as a performer it helps to share this aspect of Bach’s faith to be able to express the sheer intensity of these chorale preludes that makes them so compelling. Bach’s life was punctuated by the devastation of death. By the age of 10 he had been orphaned, and thereafter one member after another of his close

family died. Much of his music reflects a longing for death, as if death were a way of escaping his grief and being reunited with those he loved. Many of the Chorale Preludes express a longing for peace, for union with God. Some express grief and others an ecstatic longing. But there is more. Bach clearly had a particular affection for the Gloria. Schweitzer wrote: “Bach never forgets the melody is supposed to be an angel’s song.” Angels herald a new order. They are here, there and then they are gone. The Gloria chorale preludes are ravishing in their lightness and sparkle. Other chorale preludes are majestic, exuberant, even defiant. The conclusion of one, a Fantasia that celebrates the gifts of the spirit at Pentecost, becomes a whirlwind, a breathless agitation of a sixteen-note figure; it ends abruptly with two flourishes of Hallelujah, as if to say: “That’s that!” Robert Schumann tells how his friend Mendelssohn played Deck My Soul with Gladness, and said afterwards: “If life were to deprive me of hope and faith, this single chorale would replenish me with life.” Bach’s music is a testimony to the gift of hope for the human spirit; there is a quality of anticipation and unfolding as the music moves forward to resolution. One of three settings in the Eighteen of the Advent hymn Come Now, the Heathens’ Saviour is a heart-stopping lyrical meditation on the longing for the coming of Christ. The pedals play a steady tread, leading the listener into the mystery of the Incarnation. Peace-building is not glamorous work. Peace-building demands boundless patience and persistence. Setbacks are frequent. The fundamental inspiration for peace-building is found among those who take the risk of sitting together with their enemies. Bach’s music is also an inspiration. His elaborate counterpoint reflects the complexity of our endeavours, as his music weaves its way to a logical, simple and graceful conclusion. That is why I enjoy learning, playing and performing his music – whilst working for peace. Donald Reeves is a Director of The Soul of Europe (www.soulofeurope.org) and author of The Memoirs of a ‘Very Dangerous Man’ (Continuum). If you would like to invite him to give a talk/ recital on Peace-building and Bach please contact him at donalreeve@aol.com

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KEY N OT E S  H R H P R I N C E C HARLES

ISLAM AND THE

ENVIRONMENT

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any of Nature’s vital, life-support systems are now struggling to cope under the strain of global industrialisation. The problems are only going to get much worse. And they are very real. Over the last half century, for instance, we have destroyed at least 30% of the world’s tropical rainforests and in the three years since I started my Rainforest Project, over 30 million hectares have been lost – and with them about 80,000 species have disappeared. When you consider that a given area of equatorial trees will evaporate eight times more rainwater than an equivalent patch of ocean, you quickly see how the disappearance of the rainforests will affect the productivity of the Earth. They produce billions of tonnes of water every day and without that rainfall the world’s food security will become very unstable. But there are other factors too. In the last 50 years our industrialised approach to farming has degraded a third of the Earth’s topsoil. We have fished the oceans so extensively that if we continue at the same rate we are likely to see the collapse of global fisheries within 40 years and then there are the colossal amounts of waste that pollute the Earth – the many dead zones where nothing can live, or those immense rafts of plastic that now float about in the Pacific. These are all very real problems and they are the clear results of the comprehensive industrialisation of life. What is less obvious is the attitude and general outlook that perpetuate this dangerously destructive approach. It is an approach that acts contrary to the teachings of each and every one of the world’s sacred traditions, including Islam.

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hether or not we value the sacred traditions as much as we should, the blunt economic facts make the predominant approach increasingly irrational and The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity Study (an interim United Nations report published in 2008) paints a salutary picture of what we lose in straightforward financial terms by both our destruction of

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All the evidence now points to the fact we are heading towards an environmental crisis. HRH The Prince of Wales explains why we will need to draw on the timeless wisdom of our sacred traditions – including Islam – to get back on the right track

natural systems and the absence of their services to the world. It is calculated that we destroy around $50 billion-worth of a system that produces these services every year. By mapping the loss of those services over a 40-year period, it is estimated that, in financial terms, the global economy incurs an annual loss of between 2 and 4.5 trillion dollars – every single year. (To put that figure into some sort of perspective, the recent crash in the world’s banking system caused a one-off loss of just 2 trillion dollars.) Our environmental problems cannot be solved simply by applying yet more and more of our brilliant green technology – important though it is. It is no good just fixing the pump and not the well. And so when we hear talk of an “environmental crisis” or even of a “financial crisis”, I would suggest that this is actually describing the outward consequences of a deep, inner crisis of the soul. It is a crisis in our relationship with – and our perception of – Nature, and it is born of Western culture being dominated for at least 200 years by a mechanistic and reductionist approach to our scientific understanding of the world. So we need to consider whether a big part of the solution to all of our worldwide “crises” lies not in more and better technology, but in the recovery of the soul to the mainstream of our thinking. Our science and technology cannot do this. Only sacred traditions can help this happen. We live within a culture that does not much believe in the soul any more – or if it does, will not admit to it publicly for fear of being thought old-fashioned or “anti-scientific”. The empirical view of the world – the one that measures it and tests it – has become the only view to believe. A purely mechanistic approach to problems has somehow assumed great authority and encouraged the widespread secularisation of society that we see today. This is despite the fact that those men of science who founded institutions like the Royal Society were also men of deep faith and that a great many of our scientists today profess a faith in God. And if this is so, why is it that their sense of the sacred has so

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little bearing on the way science is employed to exploit the natural world in so many damaging ways? This imbalance – where mechanistic thinking has become so predominant – goes back at least to Galileo’s assertion that there is nothing in Nature but quantity and motion. This view continues to frame the general perception of how the world works and how we fit within the scheme of things. And as a result, Nature has been completely objectified – “She” has become an “it”. Understanding the world from a mechanical point of view and then employing that knowledge has, of course, always been part of the development of human civilisation, but as our technology has become ever more sophisticated and our industrialised methods so much more powerful, so the level of destruction is now potentially all the more widespread. It was that great scientist, Goethe, who saw life as the masculine principle striving endlessly to reach the “eternal feminine” – what the Greeks called Sophia, or wisdom. It is a striving, Goethe said, that is fired by the force of love, which cannot be said of our striving in the industrialised world, which is far more focused on the desire for the greatest possible financial profit. This ignores the spiritual teachings of traditions like Islam, which recognise that it is not our animal needs that are absolute; it is our spiritual essence, an essence made for the infinite. But with consumerism now such a key element in our economic model, our natural, spiritual desire for the infinite is constantly being reflected towards the finite. Our spiritual perspective has been ‘flattened’ and made earthbound and we are persuaded to channel all of our natural, never-ending desire for what Islamic poets called “the Beloved” towards nothing but more and more material commodities. Unfortunately, we forget that our spiritual desire can never be completely satisfied. It is rightly a never-ending desire. But when our desire is focused only on the earthly, it becomes potentially disastrous. The hunger for yet more and more ‘things’ creates an

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alarming vacuum and does great harm to the Earth. The utter dominance of the mechanistic approach of science over everything else, including religion, has “de-souled” the

Revelation is a very different kind of knowing from scientific, evidencebased knowledge dominant worldview, and that includes our perception of Nature. As soul is elbowed out of the picture, our deeper link with the natural world is severed. Our sense of the spiritual relationship between humanity, the Earth and her great diversity of life has become ever more diminished.

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verything in Nature is a paradox and seems to carry within itself the paradox of opposites. Curiously, this maintains the essential balance. Only human beings seem to introduce imbalance. The task then must surely be to reconnect ourselves with the wisdom found in Nature; a connection which is stressed by each of the sacred traditions in their own way. My understanding of Islam is that it warns us that to deny the reality of our inner being leads to an inner darkness which can quickly extend outwards into the world of Nature. If we ignore the calling of the soul, then we destroy Nature. To understand this we have to remember that we are Nature; we reflect the universal patterns of Nature. From what I know of the Qur’an, again and again it describes the natural world as the handiwork of a unitary benevolent power. It very explicitly describes Nature as possessing an “intelligibility” and says there is no separation between Man and Nature; precisely because there is no separation between the natural world and God. It offers a completely integrated view

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of the Universe where religion and science, mind and matter are all part of one living, conscious whole. We are, therefore, finite beings contained by an infinitude, and each of us is a microcosm of the whole. This suggests to me that Nature is a knowing partner, never a mindless slave to humanity, and we are Her tenants; God’s guests for all too short a time. The Qur’an states: “Have you considered: if your water were to disappear into the Earth, who then could bring you gushing water?” This is the Divine hospitality that offers us our provisions and our dwelling places, our clothing, tools and transport. The Earth is robust and prolific, but also delicate, subtle, complex and diverse and so our mark must always be gentle – or the water will disappear, as it is doing in places like the Punjab in India. Industrialised farming methods there rely upon the use of high-yielding seeds and chemical fertilisers, both of which need a lot more energy and a lot more water as well. As a consequence the water table has dropped dramatically – I have been there, I have seen it – so far, by three feet a year. Punjabi farmers are forced to dig expensive boreholes to get at what remains of the water. As a result, their debts become ever deeper and the salt rises to the surface contaminating the soil. This is not a sustainable way of growing food and maintaining the wellbeing of communities. It does not respect Divine hospitality. The costs it incurs will have to be borne by those who will inherit what is fast becoming the ruined and frayed fabric of life. For their sake, we must now acknowledge that the short-term financial gains of a mechanistic approach are too costly to be allowed to dominate our way of life. This happens when traditional principles and practices are abandoned – and with them, all sense of reverence for the Earth, which is an inseparable element in an integrated and spiritually grounded tradition like Islam – just as it was once firmly embedded in the philosophical heritage of Western thought. The Stoics of Ancient Greece, for instance, held that “right knowledge”, as they called it, is gained by living in agreement with Nature, where there is a correspondence or ‘sympathy’ between the truth of things, thought and action. They saw it as our duty to achieve an attunement between human nature and the whole of Nature.

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rom my understanding of its core teachings and commentaries, the important principle of Islam to keep in mind is that there are limits to the abundance of Nature. These are not arbitrary limits, they are the limits imposed by God and, as such, Muslims are commanded not to transgress them. Such instruction is hard to square if you base your understanding of the world on empirical terms alone. After all, empiricism has proved how the world fits together and told us it is nothing to do with a “Supreme Being”. There is no empirical evidence for the existence of God; therefore, QED, God does not exist. It is a very reasonable, rational argument, and I presume it can be applied to ‘thought’ as well. After all, no brain scanner has ever managed to photograph a thought, nor love, and it never will. Does that mean ‘thought’ and ‘love’ do not exist either? Clearly there is a point beyond which empiricism cannot make complete sense of the world. It is one kind of language and a very fine one, but it is unable to fathom experiences like faith or the meaning of things – it cannot articulate matters of the soul which

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is why it consistently ‘elbows’ soul out of the picture. We do though have other kinds of ‘language’ (as Islam well knows), and they are much better at dealing with the realm of the soul and matters of meaning. Each deals with different aspects of the truth and if you put empiricism, philosophy and the spiritual perception of life together – just as the Islamic tradition at its best and richest has always done – they complement each other rather well. Islamic writers express this integrated vision so well. Ibn Khaldu¯n, for instance, taught that “all creatures are subject to a regular and orderly system. Causes are linked to effects where each is connected with the other.” And there was the great Shabistar in 14th-century Persia, who talked of the world being “a mirror from head to foot, in every atom a hundred blazing suns where a world dwells in the heart of a millet seed”. Words that resonate with William Blake’s famous lines, “to see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wild flower.” Reverence is not science-based knowledge. It is an experience always mediated by love, sometimes induced by it; and love comes from relationship. This, then, is why the wisdom and

Tradition is the accumulation of the knowledge and wisdom that we should be offering to the next generation learning offered by a sacred tradition like Islam matters – and why those who hold and strive to preserve their sacred traditions in different parts of the world have every reason to become more confident of their ground. The Islamic world is the custodian of one of the greatest treasuries of accumulated wisdom and spiritual knowledge available to humanity. It is both Islam’s noble heritage and a priceless gift to the rest of the world. And yet, so often, that wisdom is obscured by the drive towards Western materialism – the feeling that to be truly “modern” you must ‘ape’ the West. To counter this, I have done what I can with my School of Traditional Arts to nurture and support traditional and sacred craft skills – not least those of Islam – because they keep alive a perspective that we sorely need. The geometry and patterning taught at the School form the basis of crafts that have been all but abandoned in many parts of the world, including the Islamic world. This is a tragedy of monumental proportions because these principles reflect the ‘spiritual mathematics’ found everywhere in Nature. As Islam teaches, it is a patterning that reflects the very ground of our being. It is the Divine imagination, so to speak; the ineffable presence that is the sacred breath of life. As the 17th-century mysticʿIbn Ashir puts it, by the practice of these arts you “see the One who manifests in the form, not the form by itself”. For many in the modern world this is hard to understand because the view of God has become so distorted. “God” is seen as being, somehow, outside “His” creation, rather than part of its unfolding – what the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas called “the force that through the green fuse drives the flower”. Being the principle that underlines the Cosmos, the Cosmos is the result

March/April 2011


of God knowing it and of it knowing the uncreated God. Notice the emphasis there on ‘un’-created. It is of profound importance. The basis of all existence is in this relationship. I suspect the reason why this is such a very unfashionable view is that the deep-seated experience of participation in the living, creative presence of God is offered to us in all traditions not by empiricism, but by revelation. This is a rare and precious gift and only given to those whose supreme humanity and capacity for great humility achieves a mastery over the ego. This, of course, is not deemed possible from an empirical point of view, but revelation is a very different kind of knowing from scientific, evidencebased knowledge. And by dismissing and discarding what it offers to humankind, we throw away an important lifeline for the future. Once you do blend the two languages – the empirical and the spiritual – you begin to wonder why the sceptics think the desire to work in harmony with Nature is so unscientific. Why is it deemed so worthwhile to abandon our true relationship with the ‘beingness’ of all things; to limit ourselves to the science of manipulation, rather than immerse ourselves in the wider science of understanding? They seem such spurious arguments, because, as Islam clearly understands, it is actually impossible to divorce human beings from Nature’s patterns and processes. The Qur’an is considered to be the “last Revelation” but it clearly acknowledges which book is the first – the great book of creation, of Nature herself, which has been taken too much for granted in our modern world and which needs to be restored to its original position. With all this in mind, I would like to set a challenge to mobilise Islamic scholars, poets and artists, as well as those craftsmen, engineers and scientists who work with and within the Islamic tradition, to identify the general ideas, the teachings and the practical techniques within the tradition which encourage us to work with the grain of Nature rather than against it. I would urge you to consider whether we can learn anything from the Islamic culture’s profound understanding of the natural world to help us all in the fearsome challenges we face. Whichever faith tradition we come from, the fact at the heart of the matter is the same. Our inheritance from our creator is at stake. It will be no good at the end of the day as we sit amidst the wreckage, trying to console ourselves that it was all done for the best possible reasons; the development and the betterment of humankind. The inconvenient truth is that we share this planet with the rest of creation for a very good reason – and that is, we cannot exist on our own without the intricately balanced web of life around us. Islam has always taught this and to ignore that lesson is to default on our contract with Creation.

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Decorated pages of a miniature Koran, Nigeria, late 17th-early 18th century, approx. 3"x 3" All images: Werner Forman Archive/Private Collection

The Modernist ideology that has dominated the Western outlook for a century implies that “tradition” is backward looking. That is far from true. Tradition is the accumulation of the knowledge and wisdom that we should be offering to the next generation. It is, therefore, visionary – it looks forward. Turning to the traditional teachings, like those found in Islam that define our relationship with the natural world, does not mean locking us into some sort of cultural and technological immobility. As the English writer G.K. Chesterton put it, “real development is not leaving things behind, as on a road, but drawing life from them as a root”. The writer C.S. Lewis once pointed out that “sometimes you do have to turn the clock back if it is telling the wrong time” – that there is nothing “progressive” about being stubborn and refusing to acknowledge that we have taken the wrong road. If we realise that we are travelling in the wrong direction, the only sensible thing to do is to admit it and retrace our steps back to where we first went wrong. As Lewis put it, “going back can sometimes be the quickest way forward”. It is the most progressive thing we could do. All of the mounting evidence is telling us that we are, indeed, on the wrong road, so you might think it would be wise to draw on the timeless guidance that comes from our intuitive sense of the origin of all things to which we are rooted. Nature’s rhythms, her cycles and her processes, are our guides to this uncreated, originating voice. They are our greatest teachers because they are expressions of Divine Unity. Which is why there is a profound truth in that seemingly simple, old saying of the nomads – that “the best of all Mosques is Nature herself”. This is an edited extract from a speech given by HRH The Prince of Wales in Oxford last summer to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, of which he is Patron.

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Living in Earth N

Wind Vortices can be seen at the Eco-Art show at the Pori Art Museum, Pori, Finland, from 4 Feb – 29 May. The show represents legendary and contemporary land and environmental artists. See www.poriartmuseum.fi To learn about how this image was made, please see www.resurgence.org

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ot so long ago, each morning, school assemblies in Britain reverberated with children chanting the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, On Earth, as it is in Heaven...” A switch in one letter, ‘o’ to ‘i’, turns the ‘on Earth’ to ‘in Earth’ as it was in the older form of the prayer. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in Earth as it is in Heaven.” Recite it anew, and suddenly a small seed sparkles. In the version most of us are familiar with Heaven is a place apart, a pure essence in which hopefully we live after death; a cloudy enveloping all-consuming space of the purest, brightest light. Earth is solid and inanimate, a place on which we dwell. On top, cut away from, disconnected – and apart from the Divine. When we switch to ‘in Earth’ everything is suddenly included. It is all in Earth, made of Earth, part of Earth – laughing Earth’s laugh. The origins and essence of these two words, ‘on’ and ‘in’, are ‘upon’ and ‘within’.

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Wind Vortices, Sky Blu, Antarctica 2007, by Chris Drury

For so long we have been up and on Earth, supported by, above and superior. Heaven we strive and hope to be with and in. Earth, matter, we move away from so she can be used without empathy. If we are within Earth, we are with and in. Humble. And this humility lowers our head from up high and down to Earth, softly and shyly with modesty. We go down on our knees and with head to Earth we pray. It is not about superiority, inferiority or even equality. We are not apart, but embedded in Earth. The rain lashes us; we wade through mud, ice, snow, swim in seas and rivers; breezes brush up against us, unseen but felt; we run through deep meadow grasses, sink

Issue 265

into sandy beaches, shelter in caves and homes of wood, earth, ice. And of course we eat Earth’s generous gifts. Death eventually takes our bodies back into Earth – consumed in flames, dissolved into rivers and oceans, eaten by birds, worms, microbes and finally disappearing back into Earth – any hint of separation gone. We are in Earth. Living in Earth, being totally composed of it, we feel its pain, as well as its rippling joy. The joy of in-Earthness is easily understood. Small moments of great joy in Nature are treasures we have had. Such incredible moments are gifts to be cherished. Life and humanity are crying out for

Photo: © Chris Drury/ www.chrisdrury.co.uk

the right relations between humans and Earth. Echoing the lines of the Lord’s Prayer, may Thy will be done in Earth. It is as though Earth is asking us to see ourselves as part of her. Words are powerful; they shape our consciousness, our ways of experiencing and so behaving. So what if we said in Earth, rather than on, routinely in everyday life as well as in our prayers for healing and justice? It is one simple change: an ‘i’ replacing an ‘o’. Then back within Earth, reconnected and full of joy. Life flows. – Yasmine Khan Clinical Psychologist and writer

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REG U L A R S  P RO J E C T I O N S

The Secret of Kells

Image: France 2 Cinéma

Wild Nature It was his love of the vivid portrayal of wild Nature in cinema that first sparked the idea for a Resurgence film column, says Caspar Walsh. Here, he identifies those films where Nature is the true star

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’ve held a slack-jawed awe for wilderness-based movies and documentaries since I was a kid. Films including Grizzly Adams, The Call of the Wild, Tarzan, anything David Attenborough touched and all of Jacques Cousteau’s deep-sea exploration. What I’ve seen on the screen over the decades has inspired me to seek adventure outdoors on the hills and moors, up mountains, in forests, along rivers and in plenty of oceans. What I’ve learnt from cinema and TV has instilled in me a respect and healthy fear of the wild places. The films featured in this issue remind me that I’m not alone with my passion for vivid wild landscape and the way it so often mirrors back the tricky inner terrain I traverse in my search for the answers to life’s big questions. Some of these movies are a reminder of my own place in wild Nature. Some are simply about reconnection to the soul food that keeps me going on the journey. So here is a very personal selection of contemporary wilderness films that have opened my heart and blown me away. Watch them and decide for yourself. Into the Wild (2007) is actor Sean Penn’s powerful directorial debut based on the diary of wilderness

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wanderer Christopher McCandless, a man paradoxically searching for a connection with his family through the isolation of wilderness. Lovingly shot, edited, scripted and scored, it entered the top 500 best movies of all time soon after its release. I became so immersed in the story that I had that rare gift of forgetting I was in the cinema. Into the Wild is a clear warning of the reality and danger of a reckless engagement with wilderness and, if we’re lucky, the healing it can provide – a healing McCandless discovered with tragic consequences. The Secret of Kells (2009). Animation features are gaining increased credibility as mainstream contenders for the Oscars. This is one of them. It is based on the story of St Brendan and the creation of the Book of Kells. The monastery of the title is surrounded by a wild forest strictly out of bounds to our hero. Wild Nature is seen from the high monastery walls as the threshold he must cross to complete his true-to-life adventure as the co-creator of an iconic and stunning spiritual text. Many less cinematic movies can wait for DVD, but this had to be seen on the big screen. I was mesmerised by

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the lush animation, and lit up by the way Brendan befriends wild Nature to find the strength, skill and support needed to complete his hero’s journey. Folklore and fable nourish in ways that reconnect and make life much richer. The Secret of Kells does this in spades. Watch, and watch again. Definitely a family film. The Road (2009) depicts a future that, in the current climate, is frighteningly feasible. A father and son travel through a postapocalyptic landscape in search of food, shelter and safety. The journey takes them through a dead world where no crops grow, and much of their time is spent fleeing free-roaming cannibals. The father’s unflinching commitment to protect his son from danger is deeply moving: a flickering light amid the savage darkness of a broken society. This is a grim warning of one road we could be and perhaps already are heading down. Mercifully, it shines a light through the story of the son. It tells me that even in the darkest times, there is always hope. Grizzly Man (2005). This is a fascinating and deeply harrowing documentary which haunted me for weeks. It is the true story of Timothy Treadwell, a lover of wild bears to the point of obsession. This unhinged adrenaline junkie video-diaried his 13 seasons spent living with grizzlies and brown bears in the wilds of Alaska. Werner Herzog, a prolific filmer of wild Nature, took on the task of putting together the rescued footage after Treadwell’s death. Treadwell believed he had a special relationship with wild bears. Perhaps he did, but the horror and tragedy of his death seemed inevitable. The film made it very clear that on her turf, Nature is not to be underestimated and that in authentic wilderness, we are seldom top of the food chain. The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001–3) needs little introduction.

A group of films I revisit regularly to reawaken me from any slumber I may have slipped into when it comes to my awareness of wild Nature and the central role it plays in my life. This epic saga tells me what can happen if I drift off the path of consciousness back into a convenient, head-in-thesand sleep. Inspired by Tolkien’s love of wild Nature and the despair he felt at the industrialisation of his treasured home turf in the West Midlands, the battle humans wage against Nature lies at the heart of this tale. It is a story for any age of the destruction

Even in the darkest times, there is always hope humankind wreaks across the planet. The distance the historical fantasy narrative gives us allows us to be drawn into a world where characters like Gollum sneak up on us and hold up a mirror to us of a world we know exists today. What strikes me in all these films is the central, essential relationship we have with Nature and how humans so often underestimate the power she holds over humankind’s life and death. There is a clear and obvious consequence that awaits anyone who deludes themselves into thinking they have ultimate control over any aspect of wild Nature, from the animals that roam her landscape to the elemental forces that shape and create the continents and climates. We may experience short-term wins in terms of easy resources and quick-fix food but in the long run, if we disconnect, take more than we need, and forget our place in the chain of evolution and life, we will always lose. Movies about wilderness and wild Nature hold a global fascination big enough for money-hungry film execs to green-light even the biggest productions – not all of them worth watching. Done well, they serve as a reminder to us of our place on the planet, which is not as the unquestioned dominant species with an Earth-given right to take what we want; and they serve as a reminder that so many of us so easily forget that our survival is inextricably linked to our relationship with and respect for the Earth and everything that lives on it. Ultimately, when viewed beyond the entertainment of a good story well told, films on wild Nature inspire us to change, and remind us that we are not alone and that at our centre, beyond our destructive fears, lie a deep love and respect for all things wild. Become a part of the Projections dialogue. What films about wild Nature have inspired you and continue to inspire you? See Caspar’s blog at www.resurgence.org and post a comment. Caspar Walsh is film editor for Resurgence, and a journalist, author and wilderness teacher. His novel Blood Road is available in paperback. www.casparwalsh.co.uk

The Secret of Kells

Issue 265

Image: France 2 Cinéma/Album/AKG

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REG U L A R S  V E G E TA R I A N F OODIE

Breaking Bread As a recent convert from vegetarianism to veganism Jane Hughes is learning she will need nerves of steel to resolve the question ‘to be or not to be a vegan?’

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Illustration: Liz Rousell

hree months into my vegan experiment, I hit a snag. Staying at my mum’s house for a weekend, I found myself completely unable to ‘come out’ as a vegan, and so simply ate the ‘special cheese’ and butter she had laid in for me. What does this say about me? That my commitment to veganism isn’t strong enough to make me deserving of the name? That I’m embarrassed to be a vegan? That I consider accepting my mother’s hospitality with good grace more important than sticking to my dietary principles? Yes, probably all these, and more. I ate the cheese, and the butter, and it was interesting. I didn’t feel sick, or

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mentally sickened by my own behaviour. I didn’t have a revelatory moment when I realised that dairy food tastes fantastic and I’d be a fool to stop eating it. I didn’t feel particularly guilty, which pleased me because I wouldn’t like my veganism to be driven by guilt. Guilt is rarely a sustainable reason not to eat something. I did feel slightly disappointed that dairy food didn’t taste better – after all this time, it was nothing special. It struck me as silly to be creating a big taboo for myself, because doing so somehow elevates the forbidden thing into something that you wish you could have. I suppose it might have been an awful anticlimax if I had managed to be the purest possible vegan for years and years, and had then had a crisis over a cheese toastie. Best to crack early, find out you’re not missing much, and move on, rather than nursing a dreadful secret craving that must never be fulfilled. That’s one of my excuses. There has been a flurry of letters to The Vegetarian magazine concerning ‘so-called’ vegetarians who sometimes eat meat. This arises from Yotam Ottolenghi’s comment that there are plenty of ‘pragmatic’ vegetarians who, whilst rarely eating fish or meat, are not entirely repulsed by the notion. Thus we find ourselves with chefs and acquaintances who seem to think that vegetarianism is more of a whim than a commitment, and bristle with indignation if a vegetarian won’t just chill out and eat what everyone else is eating for once. Personally, barring the onset of a catastrophic personality disorder, I can’t see myself ever eating meat or fish again, but I don’t yet feel that way about eggs and dairy. I shy away from confessing that I’m eating vegan, and that’s partly because I’m not convinced in my own mind that I will never again eat a lemon meringue pie. I’m not ready to seize the moral high ground, as I know that I may have to beat an ignominious retreat.

March/April 2011


Eating vegan at home isn’t particularly difficult, although the range of recipes available to me has been drastically cut. It has been interesting to see which of our regular dishes are already more or less vegan (veggie sausage and mash, chilli bean wraps, beans on toast, Chinese and Indian dishes), which can be successfully modified (we have had limited success with muffins and pancakes), which vegan alternatives just don’t work for me (vegan cheese substitutes of all kinds – ghastly and miserable) and which foods I really miss. I thought it would be butter. Turns out to be Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup, a comfort food since I was little. Sob. Shopping for food has become a very time-consuming affair – I guess it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way, but I’m still learning what I can and can’t have. Eating out is a different matter, and so difficult that we’ve more or less stopped doing it. There’s precious little joy to be extracted from a plate of pasta in tomato sauce. Especially as the pasta might be made with eggs. That’s another aspect of veganism that has taken me by surprise. As a vegetarian, I can be reasonably sure, just by scanning a menu, which dishes will be suitable for me. It’s pretty obvious, generally, if something contains meat or fish, and you can have a shrewd guess at whether things are likely to contain beef stock or gelatine. It turns out to be far, far harder to guess which dishes might contain traces of milk or eggs. I’ve asked around, and most people seem to think vegetarians are basically OK – possibly misguided, a bit faddy, pathetically unable to stomach the ‘realities’ of Nature (red in tooth and claw!), or soft, sweet, slightly infantile people whose delicate sensibilities need to be protected. The same people seem to believe that vegans are difficult. Vegans, apparently, are provocative, aggressive, ‘political’ and, well, just taking it all too far. Recently I attended a very thought-provoking two-day conference on food, culture and sociology at the Institute for Cultural Research in London. Food writer and historian Elisabeth Luard gave me cause for reflection when she raised the proposition that people who will not eat with other people are not to be trusted. If you will not accept food, you are not a friend. Bringing your own food to a dinner is an insult to the host, and leaving before the meal is over is downright disturbing. Breaking bread together is an age-old ritual closely associated with trust, bonding and peace-making. Taking somebody out for dinner is a standard part of the modern mating dance. Eating out is problematic because I don’t trust people to get it right when it comes to vegan food, and I don’t trust people not to take against me for even mentioning it – so right away, we’re on rocky ground. My best friend put her finger on it – when I told her I was vegan her words were: “Oh dear, how antisocial.” Last time we went out together, I gave in and ate a pizza. Afterwards, she had regrets. I didn’t, not really, because from my perspective, at that time and on that day, putting my friend at ease and enjoying food together felt more important than making a stand against the dairy industry. I might live to regret saying this, but at this stage in my evolving dietary consciousness, I’m still putting the comfort and happiness of my friends and family before my own dietary principles. What a cliff-hanger – will I still be vegan in two months’ time? Watch this space! Jane Hughes is editor of The Vegetarian magazine, for the Vegetarian Society.

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Partybrot Traditionally, this German bread is made with milk and glazed with egg, so I’ve taken some liberties to create this beautiful ‘tear-and-share’ loaf. Basically, you need to make smallish quantities of two bread doughs: one white and one wholemeal. The recipes can be any favourites that have worked well for you in the past, so if you’re an experienced bread-maker, feel free to customise with seeds, left-over cooked grains, herbs, etc.The point is that you then roll each batch of dough into small balls, lay them out in an attractive alternating pattern in a greased baking tin, and decorate as you see fit before baking to aromatic perfection. For the white dough: ½ tsp easy-blend dried yeast 250g strong white bread flour 1 tsp sugar ½ tsp salt 20g vegan margarine 150ml water

For the wholemeal dough: as above, but with wholemeal flour

✽ If using a breadmaker, load the ingredients into it in the

order they are listed, set it to make dough but not bake, and off you go. (Some machines prefer wet ingredients first – you’ll know if yours is one of those, so adjust your behaviour accordingly.) If making by hand, first mix together the flour, dried yeast, sugar and salt. (This approach only works if you use the kind of easy-action yeast that does not need to be activated in water first! Check the packet.) Then rub in the margarine. You’ll need the water you use to be warm. Add it gradually to create a kneadable dough, then knead by hand for 10 minutes or so. Make up both batches of dough, and then you can progress straight to making the dough balls.

✽ Lightly grease a 25cm springform or loose-based cake

tin. Cut one batch of dough into 9 pieces and the other batch into 10, roll each piece into a smooth ball and arrange the balls attractively in the baking tin. Cover with oiled cling film and leave in a warm place to rise for 20-30 minutes while the oven warms up – it needs to be set to 200 °C/400 °F/Gas Mark 6.When the dough is puffed up, brush it with soya milk and sprinkle with seeds of your choice. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden. Leave for 5 minutes to cool in the tin, then turn onto a wire rack to cool – or serve warm!

Breaking bread together is an age-old ritual closely associated with trust, bonding and peace-making 31


REG U L A R S  P I O N E E R S

Reawakening Gandhi As India marches relentlessly towards a Western-style economic supremacy, Helena Drakakis profiles the campaigner Rajagopal Veetil, who has reawakened the spirit of nonviolent protest

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e calls it the last gasp of a dying society, but for Rajagopal Puthan Veetil there is no use going quietly. “We may succeed, we may fail, but at least we will have the satisfaction of doing something before we go,” he laughs. The “society” the 62-year-old talks of is India, and the “last gasp” being taken is that of the country’s half-billion poor people – the men, women and children Rajagopal has campaigned alongside for much of his life. Rajagopal grew up in Kerala and was born just one year after India gained independence. But in the years since then, dreams of an equal, prosperous nation have slowly faded. “After all this time,” he says, “government after government has continued on one path, and that has been to push the interests of the poor people to the wall in the interests of the few.”

He plans to take 100,000 people on a march to Delhi, and he wants the world to listen I first met Rajagopal in 2003 in the battered eastern state of Chhattisgarh, where he was embarking on a month-long protest march. Under the shadow of a statue of Gandhi in the dusty town centre of Raipur, he stood addressing a small crowd. His diminutive shoulders were draped in petal garlands and he spoke of the need for India’s poor

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to mobilise themselves using nonviolent methods to protect their land and livelihoods. Back then, India was marching towards economic supremacy. Today it is galloping. But India’s poor care little for GDP, and Rajagopal says: “The trickledown of wealth that was promised them hasn’t trickled down. In fact, wealth has trickled up – to the multinationals and the banks – much of it profit from the resources beneath poor people’s feet.” As large-scale industries have been heartily welcomed into India, the rate at which the people’s natural resources have been hijacked has mushroomed. Minerals, mountains, rivers, forests and farmland have all been exploited and as the divide between the rich and the poor has widened, the space for democratic engagement has narrowed. In many areas civil war has erupted as the government attempts to quell pockets of violence instigated by Maoist rebels – known as Naxalites – who claim to be fighting for the poor, mainly tribal people and against those seeking to deprive them of their land. “The Naxalites are promoting violence and so is the state, and my organisation is operating in the decreasing space between military and private armies, trying to create a gap for nonviolence to grow,” Rajagopal explains. “It’s silence or violence. Either people submit completely or they take a gun and shoot – that means less and less opportunity for a third way.” The third way is embodied in the organisation Rajagopal founded in 1991, called Ekta Parishad. Today it is India’s only mass people’s movement dedicated to empowering people at the grassroots to fight for their land with Gandhian techniques of nonviolence. And whilst many in India now see Gandhi as an outmoded icon, Rajagopal insists his teachings remain the “most modern tool to deal with the world’s problems”. In 2007 Ekta Parishad staged Janadesh (‘The People’s Verdict’), which saw 25,000 people marching 340km from Gwalior to Delhi to demand action on land reform. Janadesh has been the organisation’s biggest-ever action to date, and it resulted in the government setting up the National Land Reforms Council and the Committee on Land Reforms. But whilst the march was successful in giving poor people the confidence to challenge

March/April 2011


Janadesh march in 2007

the state, progress over land reform has been slow. That said, in Madhya Pradesh, where Ekta Parishad started, over 80,000 families have received land as a result of this protest. Rajagopal acknowledges that government often works only under the pressure of money power and muscle power. “It is therefore all the more important for organisations like Ekta Parishad to continue pushing for justice,” he says. The long haul is reflected in Rajagopal’s own history of struggle, which stretches back to the 1970s. A former agriculture student, he began working in the lawless Chambal valley, rehabilitating bandits who had long controlled the area. Under the tutelage of veteran Gandhian Subba Rao, he worked to build trust and bring about the bandits’ surrender, often in hostile conditions. “I remember the day they cut me up badly,” he says. “They said, ‘Leave this place, otherwise we will kill you.’ We could have gone, but we said ‘No’, and the respect of the bandits grew,” he adds, recalling the long process

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All photos: © Simon Williams

of helping to bring the band of poor and disaffected people back from the margins of society. It is his sheer defiance that, for more than 30 years, has helped to free bonded labourers from servitude and to secure land for families whose lives have been threatened by industrialisation, corrupt government and unscrupulous landowners. And using Ekta Parishad as an umbrella organisation, Rajagopal has helped train thousands of rural young people to gather themselves to fight for their land and for access to water, forest and other resources. His own tireless efforts are coupled with an unshakeable faith in the quiet but determined power of nonviolence – a reawakening of the radicalism of Gandhian thought. And while India remains the primary stage for his campaigns, he sees his next large-scale action – set for 2012 – as having a global impact. He plans to take 100,000 people on a march to Delhi, and he wants the world to listen. “When you speak about the IMF or the World Bank or multinational companies,

you are not just speaking about an Indian reality,” he explains. “Pressure needs to be exerted on all those bodies and organisations trying to influence governments to act in one direction. What is happening is that government and multinationals are on one side and people and social movements are on the other. It’s a battlefield.” The arguments of Ekta Parishad may not wake everyone up, Rajagopal says, but if the movement couples words with actions, “somebody may take notice or begin to respect us. “Across the world people are dying, communities and religious organisations are dying and the market is taking over. We are dying too, but before we do, can we make some noise? I believe it is our duty to do so.” Helena Drakakis is Assistant Editor of the Big Issue magazine. She has spent time in India documenting the work of Ekta Parishad. For further information on Ekta Parishad visit www.ektaparishad.com

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REG U L A R S  S L OW T R AV E L

A Holy Pilgrimage Alighting from a long, slow bus ride to the sacred source of the Ganges, Charles V. Clark had a peculiar feeling he was on the brink of an important discovery

What took you so long to get to India?” The swami regarded me with an amused gleam in his eye. Below us the Ganges, or Bhagirathi, as it is called at that point, boiled through the glistening ravine, knowing no respite as it carried its timeless message down through the world’s greatest mountain range to the ocean at Ganga Sagar, 1,500 miles away in the Bay of Bengal. I had turned 40, it was true, yet here I was, a solitary wanderer, some 20 years after the trickle of seeking, footloose Westerners became a tide, ebbing and flowing across the subcontinent and Southeast Asia in the 1970s.

Could this be the lesson we hurrying, anxious Westerners might learn from India: how to be here and now? Wisps of greyish cloud were beginning to drift over the blindingly white peaks, which seemed as if they hung upon the air. I sensed another cold night at 10,000 feet as I watched two specks, eagles, circling, climbing and drifting on the thermals through the pale, earlyevening sun. I was now just two days’ walk from my goal, Gaumukh, higher still in the Himalayas, and humble source of India’s most sacred river. Fingering his plaited, rat’s tail beard, the swami outlined his own life’s pilgrimage: “I was an engineer for many years…I could go anywhere, had family.” He spoke in a measured way. “Then I gave it all up. At the age of 40, I gave away all my possessions and took a train to Haridwar, where I threw all my money in the river, walked to Gangotri and became a monk.” I listened intently as he gestured toward his tiny, tranquil garden. “Now that I have nothing,” he continued, “life is so much simpler!” His laughter mingled with the river’s rush and his bundled dreadlocks danced like a jolly family of ferrets. A few weeks earlier I had left Delhi, some 200 miles to the south, by midnight bus, heading, also via Haridwar,

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for Rishikesh. If all goes well, such a journey takes around seven hours. But such transport is often in an advanced state of decrepitude and is prone to making sudden and inexplicable stops – often for very long periods. But I wanted to travel the way the people did, and it seemed a more colourful means of getting around India than taking a deluxe-sleeper coach, with no guarantee of sleep. Upon discovering at a roadside dhaba, or café, that the sole foreigner on board had similar aspirations to themselves, a group of Hindu pilgrims insisted on ushering me to a privileged seat in the driver’s cab, where I alternately dozed or chatted the remaining hours of the journey away with his two blanket-shrouded companions. Despite the sleepless hours, I found, on disembarking from the bus in Rishikesh, my senses instantly responding to the sounds and new visual impressions around me. I felt totally present in each moment. With each intake of breath it was as if I was on the brink of some important discovery, if only I knew what it was. With its graceful, forested hills on either side and many ashrams and spiritual retreats lining both sides of the onrushing Ganges, it is not for nothing that Rishikesh has long been known as the ‘city of seers’. It is one of the holiest pilgrim towns in Uttar Pradesh and I was soon aware of lines of men and women, many from far-off towns and villages, marching barefoot through the streets to make puja at the temples and pay homage to the holy river, ‘Mother Ganga’. Some however – myself included – used the town as a staging post en route to the more remote sanctuaries of the Garhwal Himalayas, as the region is known. On a visit in 1929, Gandhi was moved to comment: “peace, which is the final end for the soul, dwells in these shrines of the Garhwal”. Enclosed between the Gangetic plain to the south and the frozen plateau of Tibet to the north, it is not so long since these remote areas could only be approached on foot or horseback. The old footpaths or yatra trails see few travellers these days. However, I felt a strong urge to honour the old ways

March/April 2011


and walk at least a sizeable portion of the way to Gangotri, still two days and over 200km up the river from Rishikesh. Devaprayag, about 70km away and an important pilgrim township standing at the junction of the rivers Alaknanda and Bhagirathi, was the obvious choice. Compared with Nepal, the Indian Himalayas are relatively undeveloped as far as lodgings are concerned, which may leave the foot-traveller spending the night in some unlikely places. On my first night for example, I slept on a woodframed charpoy, or rope bed, in the back room of a wayside hut. In the darkness it was a little while before I realised I was sharing the room with a horse! Another night I drowsed away by a riverside campfire, having been welcomed to the circle by a cheerful group of Tehri hill shepherds tending their large, mixed flock of goats and sheep. I had walked 12 hours that day. A bright moon cast a silvery glow across the river and the forested crags above. In the overpowering stillness it was easy to believe that the spirits of the ancient yogis dwelt there, and at any moment one of India’s countless deities might step softly into that sylvan scene. After Devaprayag, I took another local bus for seven hours, getting out at Uttarkashi, the ‘temple town’, and the capital of the westernmost district of Uttarakhand, which fringes India’s border with Tibet. The air was already noticeably cooler. At daybreak and dusk, the temples and shrines of this township of about 12,000 are alive with the tinkling of bells and chanted prayers: you truly begin to feel you have entered the ‘land of the gods’. Today you can easily hire a jeep-taxi for the final 100km from Uttarkashi to the roadhead at Gangotri – but it costs about five times the local bus fare. A dawn start saw me perched amongst the bedrolls and tin trunks on the roof of another ‘biscuit tin on wheels’. A soldier cautioned me to keep my head well down, and I was soon to discover why. At regular intervals in the Bhagirathi valley the road is criss-crossed by low-hanging telegraph wires; higher in the mountains, vigilance became even more essential as we bounced beneath massive rock canopies where the tiny road had been blasted across perpendicular cliffs. After about 60km we were brought to an abrupt halt by a huge rock avalanche blocking the road. I abandoned the bus at this point and walked the remainder of the road in about seven hours. As you reach Gangotri a notice informs you that you are now at an altitude of 10,000 feet. The trail from this forest-fringed village to Gaumukh is simple enough providing you have good conditions. In fact a day’s march takes you well beyond the tree line to the welcoming rest-house of Bhojbasa. The next morning you can continue on to Gaumukh, the source, which tumbles from the mouth of a huge ice cave at the end of the Gangotri Glacier. On one side rises the massif of the Bhagirathi peaks.

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Hindu priest by River Ganges, Gangotri, Himalaya, India Photo: Alvaro Leiva/age fotostock/Robert Harding

Completing the spectacular backdrop on the other are the stupendous ice ridges falling from the summit of Shivling, the ‘Matterhorn of India’. Soaring to an elevation of 6,543 metres, it is a peak of remarkable elegance and simplicity. Such places are regarded as the most sacred on Earth by the Hindu faithful. As I sat at this remarkable spot I had the feeling of eternity being a kind of ‘continuous present’. Could this be the lesson we hurrying, anxious Westerners might learn from India: how to be here and now? In the Gita, Sri Krishna did not counsel Arjuna to think about the future should he win or lose the great battle that confronted him. Fight the fight facing him with full concentration was the advice. In other words, when you are doing one thing do not let your mind wander elsewhere. It seems easy enough. Charles Clark is a writer and musician. He is the author of Ancient River Bending: Through India to the Source of the Ganges, published by Librario. ISBN: 9781904440253

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REG U L A R S  N AT U R E W R I T I NG

THE POND If you want to witness the miracle of this normally hidden watery world, all you have to do is… nothing, writes Jeremy James

A Pond’s Life by Diana Marques

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Illustration © Diana Marques/www.dianamarques.com

March/April 2011


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f you want to look into a pond, you don’t whack it with a stick. Don’t chuck a rock or jump in it either. Leave it be: ponds are best left alone – they’re quiet, secluded little places having sensitive atmospheres. But, if you must look into one, right into one; if you have the ability to see, really to see, prepare for an alien odyssey. Pick a nice sunny day to visit a pond. Settle down quietly beside it. The first thing you will notice is its calm – there appears to be nothing going on. Your presence has already had impact. The observer has affected the experiment. The best thing you can do is go away and leave it be, which is why ponds are best left alone. If you must persist, stubbornly, you’ll need to exercise patience. The creatures that live there will have clocked you before you arrived and they will be keeping pretty still. On your first sitting at your pond you might think you have come to a barren little ocean, even though it is surrounded by alder, goat withy, ragged robin, enchanter’s nightshade, water dropwort, kingcups, veronica, cress, algae, flag iris, reeds, sedges, horsetails and hart’s tongue – all threaded about with dragonflies, damselflies, bees, wasps, hoverflies, midges, commas, red admirals, painted ladies and, by night, bats. Down in the sticky plenty of the warm underworld beneath this fluttering canopy, scurrying along in the root thatch will be voles and devil’s coach-horse beetles, iridescent blues, mayfly larvae, grasshoppers, spiders, tadpoles and toadlets – all this and you haven’t even looked into the water yet. At last you peer down. The first things you see are reflections. Reflections of the blue above, clouds, overhanging branches, inverted birds flying across the flat face of the dark crystal you are scrying, shuddering to every single little emanation that reverberates across its polished skin. It is a mirror. You cannot see through this mirror until you adjust your perspective and lean a little closer. Bending to the water, you are presented with a shocking image. A battered, ghoulish face looms eerily out of the darkness, its hollow orbs staring you straight in the eyes. With a gasp of horror you reel back. What trick is this that you came to look into a pool only to find yourself gazing upon yourself, haloed like the Green Man with overhanging trees and iris leaves? Ah, this little pond is an enigma. You study your reflection like an alchemist peering into a still – and who should come walking across the water but a pond skater? You marvel at the indents his pointy little toes make upon the meniscus as he skates from shore to shore, narrowly avoiding the fragile cobweb of the big tiger spider crouched in the dry reed, tweaking the tripwire that separates the innocent dancer from his silvery world and the jaws of an arachnid eternity. As you lean closer to the water, you can smell it: its bittersweet aroma, its moulds and green slimes, its ever-evolving state of flux as it bubbles and digests, recycles, composts and decays, transforming death into life amongst its duckweed. As your eyes accustom to the gloom, something wonderful happens. Slowly, like a veil being moved across a starlit window, this little pool reveals her cosmic treasures. Jigging, wriggling, swimming, gliding, floating in their

altered gravitational state are many millions of dipping, diving, swiftly and slowly moving alien craft of sensational design, outlandish enough to make any science-fiction monster-maker ashamed of his art. Water boatmen, mayfly nymphs, phantom midge larvae, dragonfly larvae and water scorpions chug and weave through this miniature viscid galaxy. Here a newt is suspended weightlessly like a giant spaceship in the floating arms of its spirogyral galaxy, while deep on the swampy floor beneath lies a carpet of twigs, acorns, beech mast and leaves in various stages of decomposition, tapestried in bewildering technicolour, home to water snails, sandhoppers, minnows and millions and millions of tiny little bacteria: plankton of the freshwater shallows, their huge numbers providing the steadying hand of balance in this fantastic little liquid universe, which you, like a god, have had the great, good privilege to behold, and it steals your breath away. Bewildered by its cohesion and symmetry, its unity and composition, you become aware that every single thing in this pool – from the simplest bacterium to the foxes that come to drink – all that inhabit or visit it are affected by it as it is by them. Each depends one upon the other, upon everything in and around it. Nothing is out of place. Every creature, however tiny or seemingly insignificant, has reason to be there. As you allow your eyes to penetrate the mysteries of this symbiotic, sliding world, you find yourself subtly sensing that as you are watching it, it is watching you. In the duckweed, not three feet from your head, a bright little pair of amphibian eyes watch you. Mysteriously, like an estuarine alligator they sink soundlessly beneath the surface with barely a ripple. Others rise in different places and, they too, watch you. More appear: green eyes, yellow eyes, brown eyes, black eyes. Soon you find you are being watched not only by them but by other eyes as well. You did not spot her at first but now you see: there in the reed is a moorhen, on a nest. With her sharp avian eye she has been watching you all the time. As have the birds above your head, and who knows who has been watching you from the depths of the pool or from the grass in which you are lying? They have all seen you. How many of them have you noticed? More people know Tom Fool than Tom Fool knows. A sense of calm pervades. All is still. Now you spot the spoor marks of the badger in the mud. A weasel, not three yards away, stands to sniff the air. He drops to his feet and lopes through the grass, a golden-brown little blur in his white tie. What a miracle he is. What a miracle it all is. You didn’t need to whack this little aquatic ark with a stick. All you had to do was sit there and wait for her to reveal herself, in her own time, of her own accord. You can lie back and sleep in the sun, in the silence of the pool, knowing that you and she are all part of the same thing, fashioned in different ways, but made of the same stuff, while all the crazy little inhabitants living out their exotic, busy little lives in her metaphorical cosmic embrace are your ancestral grandfathers and grandmothers, uncles and aunts.

Slowly, like a veil moving across a starlit window, the little pool reveals her cosmic treasures

Issue 265

Jeremy James is an author, journalist and novelist whose work is informed by the natural world.

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REG U L A R S  G A R D E N D E S I G N

james towillis gwc - japan scale 1:50 july 2010

The Resurgence Peace Garden

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ast autumn, award-winning British garden designer James Towillis was invited to take part in the Gardening World Cup in Japan where he built The Resurgence Peace Garden. James, who took his inspiration from the Japanese version of the creation story – where Amaterasu Omikami is drawn back out of her cave to restore light to the world – and who won a silver medal for the garden, is now planning a Resurgence 45th Birthday commemorative garden at his home in Devon. Here, he shares some of the underlying key concepts from the Peace Garden design: ✽ The Resurgence Peace Garden represents a symbolic journey in search of our true nature, beginning with the centre of the pool where we feel exposed and disconnected from Nature. ✽ As our awareness of the need to connect with

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Nature grows so does the realisation that if we move mindfully, paying attention to each step we take, we can create our own paths toward our true nature. ✽ There is no obvious path, which makes us pay attention to our every step; this slowness of movement and consideration of each step encourages us to remain in the present moment. ✽ Climbing up a little and looking back, we notice a green shoot growing out of the black hole in the centre of the pool. This reminds us that far from being disconnected from Nature, she is at the heart of our being. To learn more about The Resurgence Peace Garden and its designer, James Towillis, see our website (www.resurgence.org) where we have a longer article.

March/April 2011


Far from being disconnected from Nature, she is at the heart of our being

The Resurgence Peace Garden

Issue 265

All images: James Towillis and Jane Tearle

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REG U L A R S  O P I N I O N

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Keeping Watch

enetically modified (GM) crops have been grown in the USA, Canada, much of South America, China and India for more than 10 years now. The large and powerful biotech industries are doing all they can to force all governments to accept GM crops – and Australia, for one, is now cracking. However, it is Europe, where resistance has been strongest, that is currently receiving the brunt of this pressure. Yes, there are areas in Spain, Portugal, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Romania where GM crops, mainly maize, are grown, but the majority of Europe remains GM-free, with the strongest resistance being led by the citizens of the UK. (And since Caroline Spelman, the coalition government’s new Environment Secretary, worked for a corporate lobbying group promoting GM in her previous job, things are not looking that much rosier with the new administration.) Vandana Shiva, the Indian activist and Resurgence columnist, says that the “world is watching closely how the UK is reacting to the ever-changing pressures”. That said, with more and more bad press from farmers who have been growing GM crops worldwide, there is now more resistance to new GM varieties. For example, in 2010 the Indian nation rose up as one and said ‘NO’ to GM aubergine. On the surface, it simply looks a matter of time before our countryside is littered with GM crops. Our farmers are being overwhelmed by information telling them how yields will increase, the use of crop sprays will fall, profits will increase and it will all add up to being “more friendly to our environment”. (Canadian farmers were even offered seed for free for the first two years…) No wonder, then, that there seems to be an air of inevitability, which, with ever fewer articles in our national press spelling out the real facts, is intensifying. “GM will feed the world” is the hollow line bandied about that is now winning over more of the public. There have recently been two trial plots of GM potato in Norfolk (at a cost to the taxpayer of £1.7 million). One showed good resistance to blight – the scourge of the potato – and the other didn’t. The Sárvári Research Trust in Wales has, through conventional plant-breeding techniques, produced six varieties of potato with high resistance to blight. ‘Sárpo Mira’(the oldest variety) still has strong resistance after 10 years. As a ‘bonus’, it continues growing to the first frost, is deep-rooted, and has a strong natural resistance to viruses and nematodes. Also, due to the mass of foliage produced, which shades the ground, suppressing weed growth and reducing the need for herbicides, it is a variety that sits well with organic growers. The Sárvári Trust receives no government funding, and when Ministers were asked if they intended to visit, the reply was “We have no plans to go up there”. A tasting was (apparently) carried out on the Sárpo potato with supermarket representatives and it was failed on ‘taste’. However, I have recently spoken with two

farmers who have grown Sárpo potatoes for the last three years and who report a very enthusiastic local response. So what about the potato blight? As with all pests and diseases, Nature mutates and builds up ‘resistance’, which is why we change the wormers used on sheep and cattle, and why people take different antimalarial pills when going to hot countries. Potato blight is no different. The Sárvári Trust knows this and is planning to produce more new varieties so that growers can mix up their planting and try to stay one step ahead. GM is pretty much a one-trick pony: modified to be resistant to a specific herbicide, pesticide or natural stress such as drought, high salinity or blight. On the question of GM DNA transference to the human body, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) website currently states that “no material was found in the bodies of those who eat products from animals fed GM”. The FSA has now been asked to correct this, following correspondence with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at Defra, Lord Henley, who stated that “DNA sequences associated with GM crops are to be found (in the human body) – albeit sporadically and at extremely low levels”. Studies at Newcastle University, for example, show that genes transfer to gut bacteria, and that DNA from food is found in the blood. Honesty and transparency about the food we buy in shops to feed our families is a sacred right.The website of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) states that the public can request access to all information contained in applications (of GM food or feed products). However, “EU Regulation 1829/2003 requires that these [applications] be made publicly available, apart from certain information that meets defined criteria for confidentiality”. ‘Commercial confidentiality’ is a phrase used to withhold information that could otherwise put our troops at risk, which seems fair enough; but how can it inspire us with faith when it is used to withhold information on GM products? The data prised from Monsanto via the German courts in 2005 by Greenpeace on the ‘approved’ animal feed known as Mon 863 maize, which suggested harmful effects on kidneys and levels of white blood cells in rats, is one of many such examples. Both David Cameron and Zac Goldsmith told me in person and before Britain’s general election last year that the Conservatives would insist on proper labelling as to whether our food is from animals raised on GM feed or contains GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Currently, though, all we have in place is a very loose and easily circumnavigated, unregulated system. There is currently huge public support for clear labelling of GMOs present in our food. Supermarkets will eventually provide this information, but only if we all take the trouble to ask them.

To know what we are eating is a sacred right, says Hector Christie, who fears that Europe is under increasing pressure to accept GM crops

GM is pretty much a one-trick pony

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Hector Christie is a GM activist and sustainable farmer. For more information on how growing GM crops has affected the livelihoods of US farmers watch Farmer to Farmer – clips available at www.GMcropsFarmertofarmer.com

March/April 2011


LETTERS  REGULARS

Letters to the Editors BALANCED IDEAL

Looking for tigers in the vale Image: Merlyn Chesterman

THE REAL WORLD Regarding Mukti Mitchell’s article Sweet No-Things (Resurgence 263), telling us to only buy the best quality is all very well, but he should explain how those of us who cannot work could ever afford to buy expensive toasters and drills. I don’t have a credit card or even a bank account, so I can’t even take ‘advantage’ of lower internet prices, and unlike Mukti, I don’t have relatives who can afford to buy me such presents for Christmas! Given that you publish this kind of article, as well as adverts for £415,000 eco-houses, I now realise that your publication is aimed firmly at the middle classes who have money to burn. I am not at all envious – I’m very content being ‘poor’ and making do with Freecycle and charity shops. But I find Resurgence’s patronising tone a little difficult to take at the best of times. Please try living in the real world, Mr Mitchell. John Ashwell by email

Many thanks for the November/ December issue (Resurgence 263) with its emphasis on the value of craftwork. I was glad to see the life and work of C.R. Ashbee celebrated, but I would question Philip Vann’s recruitment of William Morris into the ‘Back-to-the Land’ movement. As a businessman, Morris was a realist who, when looking for a suitable place to expand his workshop in the late 1870s, rejected the idea of moving Morris and Co. to picturesque Blockley in the Gloucestershire countryside, and chose instead Merton Abbey, near to London, where the business was expanded and flourished. Morris told the Ancoats Brotherhood in Manchester in 1894, “I want neither the towns to be appendages of the country, nor the country of the town; I want the town to be impregnated with the beauty of the country, and the country with the intelligence and vivid life of the town. I want every homestead to be clean, orderly, and tidy; a lovely house surrounded by acres and acres of gardens. On the other hand, I want the town to be clean, orderly, and tidy; in short, a garden with beautiful houses in it.” It is this balanced ideal that he portrays in his Utopian romance News from Nowhere. Peter Faulkner Exeter

The Joy of Making Your Craft Special issue (Resurgence 263) filled me with joy and hope. It is so encouraging to know that the modern human spirit still has room to extol the virtues of hand making; indeed, in my opinion, the two are inextricably linked. If we deny ourselves the innate need to create using our hands, we are repressing an integral part of what makes us human, and very much to our cost. There is a worrying trend in modern society of apathy and abstinence,

especially amongst the young. Many have become spectators of life rather than participants and as a result find themselves disconnected and struggling to find a purpose. As parents, we no longer allow our children to go out, to discover the world around them. They have replaced hands-on, direct experiences with virtual ones and no longer have the chance (as previous generations did) to find discarded raw materials such as pieces of wood or old bicycle parts, to transform into go-carts or wooden boats that really do work. We need to be curious again, to restore the human right of physical and mental exploration to our children and to ourselves. Making – structured or otherwise – can help us do that and as long as there are people, such as yourselves, out there who realise this, then all is not lost. Gillian Montegrande Cheshire

A DIFFERENT AFRICA I enjoy reading Resurgence at the British Library in Bangalore and I thought Thembi Mutch’s article Learning from Tanzania (Resurgence 263) was very good. I have spent some time in Nigeria working as a VSO volunteer and I have seen for myself how communities in the southern part of that country are so affected by the presence of oil there. It seems to me the modern Nigeria is marching ahead and away from the traditional Africa. What we need is more karibu (as recommended in this article) and less wabenzi culture. We need good food, warm shelter and caring communities. And in this self-centred world, we especially need one ujamaa (roughly translates to ‘familyhood’). Keep up the good work! Hemanta R. Naik Bangalore, India

We welcome letters and emails commenting on Resurgence articles. These should include your postal address. Send your letters to: The Editors, Resurgence, Ford House, Hartland, Bideford, Devon EX39 6EE or email: editorial@resurgence.org Letters may be edited for reasons of space or clarity.

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ART S & C R A F T S  P O E T RY

Writing As Witnessing The work of Linda France

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inda France sees poetry as a means of witnessing. She writes with acute sensitivity to whatever impinges from without or erupts from within. In one of her poems she says she would like to be as a marguerite flower with its Cyclops trick of not blinking, of being wide awake and open-eyed before all kinds of experience: “to keep trying, failing, flowering, day and night”. Much of her witnessing relates to the power of art and the great beauty and diversity of the natural world. She writes: “Writing has always been where I am my most authentic, most fully engaged

From The Life Cycle

of the Dragonfly I am what remains on a leaf when the fly has flown, when the dark cracks open.

If the sun is high, everything wants to rise toward it. I heard wind make wings of eucalyptus leaves. What is this I had to do? Shed skin and bone, the soul in me, all the gold I’d buried. I was wet as the eye of the morning. Through a small skylight in the roof of my back, wriggling my few grams upward and unfurling,

with my imagination, dancing in and out of pleasure and pain, coaxing laughing language to celebrate and transform. When I am working at my best I am thoroughly absorbed in the world of a particular poem. Everything else recedes. I experience waves of adrenalin, my stomach becomes taut, my skin incredibly sensitive, all my senses heightened. It’s almost erotic, slightly intoxicating, deeply satisfying… “I’m concerned with witnessing my process, responding to what arises, wanting to be a conduit for the best words in the best order.”

Gulls How a scarf shaken out ripples, folds around itself and whatever air it finds, the gulls are flocking over the Tyne. How, as dusk falls, they know it’s time to fly together, knit their flickering stitches, white against darkening sky. After a day of solitary soaring, suddenly they are tribe. How all things become more than they are alongside another. How driving home to an empty house triggers my longing for edge and threshold, the possibility of flight, a scarf of shared air.

I was the same but different, a self-portrait in molten green, a seed set free.

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edited by Peter Abbs

Bowl Heavy, cold, dark – what the earth knows of itself – I sweeten with water, watch it soften, cohere, lean into a new smoothness, the deep courage of form. Whose hand is coaxing, easing clod into circle, hand answering hand? Together we are making a hemisphere, a map of the sky, known and unknown caught in the lip of what fire will teach me to call bowl, a vessel that will crack and be mended, crack and be mended, always empty, even when I fill it full of whatever light there is, shadowfall.

Piraeus by Christopher McHugh, 40"x 30", acrylic on canvas

Image: © Christopher McHugh

The Burning House

Kingfisher

When a single thought recurring caught like paper under magnified sunlight,

Tonight I will shuck off the too-tight dress of my skin and let fly that ounce of breath and bone I carry twined inside myself.

it didn’t take long till flames licked their lips and devoured windowsill, curtains, chair; the whole room blackening into one enormous grate. The towers of books were tinder, tumbling into clips from the end of the world; all the words incinerated till nothing was left of Babel but grey flakes of lost imaginings. The stairs turned into the scales of an orange dragon and the chimney roared. Last to go was the bed, its mattress resisting the familiar heat, proud of its memory of metaphor, its love for play. In the end, even it was powerless. By morning all that remained were shadows, coils of wire. This is what I came home to; for the first time felt air open through me, pure

I’ll kiss the river’s thin meniscus – here at the millpond – where all it asks is that I swoop and dive; loop the tricks of my stiletto bill, spinning sapphire across summer air, ripe and hungry for purging what’s already lost. I will slice an avenue, a hide of willow. Each secret needs water to keep it safe, clean as larkspur, unfathomable as tears. I want to seed my song under the bridge and watch it drop – a dark flare of wing, whistling from the other side of this: where I am and what I’ve got; which, tonight – let me flute you – is seven days of like meeting like, no storms, a rainbow’s arc. Light. The strike of grief. My wild turquoise, flying.

as the water that couldn’t put the fire out, strong as the earth deep in my bones. All the poems have been taken from Linda France’s new volume You are Her (Arc Publications, 2010). www.peterabbs.co.uk

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ART S & C R A F T S  E A RT H A RT

DIRTY ART From soil collected on the heights of Devon’s Dartmoor to a verge-side Californian clay found on Highway 101 in the USA, two earth artists – Leah Fanning Mebane and Cea Blyth – explain the benefits of creating colour from natural pigments

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Photo: courtesy Leah Fanning Mebane

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or over a decade, my medium of choice was oil painting, which uses turpentine and toxic heavymetal-laden paints. Despite my allergic reactions to solvents and paints – as well as my growing guilt over polluting the Earth with toxic chemicals – I carried on using it, remaining ignorant of any other option. When I learned it was possible to make my own paints from clay and oil, my passion was ignited. I realised my paintings, already inspired by the Earth in their patterns and colours, could also now include Nature-based pigments. The whole process then became even more aligned with my intrinsic values. I discovered that over the centuries – from the Egyptians and Etruscans to the ancient Buddhists and medieval monks – earthen pigments have been used as the primary paint. And whilst red, orange, yellow, brown, black, white, and sometimes even green could always be found in the ground, blues and purples were more elusive, each culture using different techniques to produce them. For example, the ancient Chinese ground up malachite and azurite, whilst the Etruscans used lapis lazuli. The basic steps I use to make my own paint are simple: I look for primarily clay soils, avoiding sand or soil with lots of organic matter. The places to find the best colours are along road cuts, in quarries (which often reveal strata of several different-coloured earths), in eroded areas, in banks of rivers or streams, and on construction sites. After collecting a few handfuls, I dry the soil in the sun, before grinding it into a fine powder and mixing it with walnut oil. The most obvious benefit of making earthen paints is that we’re no longer poisoning the Earth or ourselves with unnecessary chemicals and toxins. And the pigments are free! Even better, natural earth pigments are actually superior to synthetic paints: they are more permanent (think cave paintings), and are not affected by sunlight, humidity, temperature or impurities. There is no need for added fillers or stabilisers to increase shelf life, and the colours themselves are more intense because the light bounces off the irregular surfaces of each particle. Working with natural pigments has led me to a deeper connection with our natural world. I don’t miss the ‘normal’ experience (disconnect) of buying a tube of paint that has been shipped from another state or country and squeezing it out without a sense of its direct relationship to my painting process. Instead I start with a walk down a trail, creek bed or road cut. I breathe the fresh forest air, feel both the stillness and the movement of the branches and birds, and before long, spot an interesting colour. Digging with bare hands to see if it’s mostly clay, sand, or silt, I scoop up a handful and pause to really experience its texture. The stillness and complexity of Nature is what I try to capture back in my studio. The organic materials marry well with the Nature-inspired images on each canvas, and this blending of my work and Nature’s work allows me to express my art and passion in partnership with the Earth. Leah Fanning Mebane The Dreaming Tree

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Image: Leah Fanning Mebane

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Pigments

The earth painted on the canvas glows with the same intensity as it did in the landscape – Cea Blyth

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Photo: Leah Fanning Mebane

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tep through the door of my studio and you are entering an Aladdin’s cave of earth pigments gathered from all over the world. Stored in beautifully labelled jars reminiscent of an apothecary; silvery dust from a glacier in New Zealand can be found next to turmeric-yellow earth from India. Cool green clay from Budleigh Salterton contrasts vividly with a deep red soil from Brazil. In the corner a pestle and mortar glow with pink pigment from the Texas desert. There is a natural affinity between the whole spectrum of earth colours, and this notion of pigments resonating with each other is most evident in my work Dartmoor Rainbow, which is painted with pigments collected only from within the high moor region. Starting with soft white feldspar glinting with quartz, picked up on a track above Postbridge, it is followed by a pinkish clay from an old arsenic mine behind Princetown. Next, sparkling blue-grey micaceous haematite from Kelly mine, near Lustleigh, then a cool creamy clay crumbling off root fibres by the path along the river Dart below Holne. The warm side of the spectrum begins with a yellow clay found by the lane up to Sherberton and spills into a stripe of soft warm apricot ochre from the track up to the moor from Michelcombe. Alongside that there is a band of reddish tone from the old Gobbet tin mine and, finally, inky black peat gathered from the path up to Bellever Tor.

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Dartmoor Rainbow 2004

Painting: Cea Blyth

I first painted with earth pigments as a teenager, having been inspired by cave paintings in France, and I returned again to this medium whilst collaborating with an eco-fashion design company in London. I too had become very sensitive to chemical paints, so it made sense to use natural materials that created no fumes or pollution. I remain in awe of the intensity and strength of earth pigments – a whole palette of colours beneath your feet – and when painting, I like to apply the pigments in layers until the earth I have painted glows with the same intensity as it did in the landscape. Currently I am working on a new body of work, turning my pigment collection into small shapes and abstract sculptures that you can hold in the palm of your hand. I mix the pigments with hemp straw and animal hair to add both strength and texture. Touching them is a fun, tactile experience and a way to really engage with the pigments of the earth. Cea Blyth Working with earth pigments has inspired Cea Blyth to become part of the Slow Art movement (see www.theworldinstituteofslowness.com). To see more of her work visit www.c-blyth.com Leah Fanning Mebane lives in Southern Oregon, USA and exhibits her abstract and portraiture work in galleries throughout the United States. For more information visit www.fanningart.com

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ART S & C R A F T S  S I R I U S C O LOUR SYSTEM

Cosmic Colours Painter and paint-maker Barbara Diethelm shares her very personal discovery of the deeper meanings of colour

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olour has been an integral part of my life ever since childhood. In 1963, shortly after I was born, my father founded his own company and started to manufacture artist paints, pioneering water-based artist colours in continental Europe. Lascaux was a family company; my parents had very little means but lots of enthusiasm. Like an alchemist, in the depths of the cellar of our home, my father mixed ingredients and stirred them in large pots, turning them into beautiful and luminous colours. I remember the joy of helping to label the aluminium tubes and carefully putting them in a cardboard box. As a child I painted and drew a lot. My closest friend was my cat, so naturally I painted her quite often. The drawings and paintings I made at school were ‘pale and plain’ compared to the more expressive ones I made at home. This was because the watercolours we used at school were of inferior quality; and so I understood that the quality of paints is crucial for the facilitating of expression. I also gained a sensibility for colour and an appreciation for the quality of material. Every so often my father took me on his visits to a painter’s studio, which I found inspiring – a rich world of senses: colours, imagery, paintings, books and music. Raised in a workingclass family, my father was a craftsman – a house and decoration painter – until his artist friends motivated him to develop and produce artist colours. In this way he eventually came to painting and drawing. When I was 20 I accepted the invitation of an art restorer to work as a practical trainee with her for four

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months, and I travelled to the USA. While I was there I decided to enter art school. My father wasn’t very keen on this, knowing how hard the life of an artist can be, but I listened to my inner voice and chose to follow this path. In one my first art-school classes, the teacher asked us to draw the energies of the chair – “which is what the chair is”, he said, prompting us to read the book The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra. The book was a revelation to me: there it was, the bridging and the interconnectedness of things, which confirmed all my own beliefs and experiences. The interdisciplinary approach of the art school I attended in San Antonio, Texas was inspiring and invigorating. It was a quantum leap from the fragmented education system I had experienced in Swiss high school. In art classes the focus was on process and dialogue: the teachers facilitated passionate discussions about modern physics, Jungian psychology, literature and philosophy, and their relation to art. We learned dialectic debate as well as observation. I became immersed in the landscape of the south-west of the US and in the history of the Indigenous peoples, the North American Indians. Their holistic view of life, their iconography and their spirituality had a great impact on me. In art school I realised that my path should not be dictated or directed by the laws of the art world (i.e. the market). I wanted to follow my own rhythms, obliged only to my own inner voice. I expanded my studies to the humanities and social sciences, including studies in management, and eventually I decided not only to join my father in the company but, after his death, to continue it.

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What I initially perceived to be two separate professions – painting, and heading a company manufacturing artist paints – have in the past few years become organically interwoven with colour and my interest in its holistic properties. For me painting is a way of thinking; art is about relationships, revealing interrelations. Art has the power to sensitise perception, and a central function of art has always been to convey spiritual values. Continuing my father’s credo to produce high-quality material for professional artists and paint users, I felt the need to include the more subtle levels; to instil the spiritual dimension into this world of business. Art and business can and should complement one another. Art is one of the few areas that does not orient itself to rational scientific thinking. In art, ‘meaning’ is considered, and interrelated and intuitive thinking is explored. When I returned from the US, where I had lived for eight years, I met the painter Werner Schmidt, who later became my husband. This relationship was a founding pillar of my rainbow bridge. Shaped by our love – for each another and also for the sacred and beauty in art and in everyday life – it laid the foundation for our artistic and spiritual growth as well as creating a life of ‘artful living’ together. Our hearts’ desire to see human, animal, Nature and the cosmos in balance again led to the setting up of the Lascaux Foundation. What has become my major concern in painting over the years has become the pattern underlying my life. Whether as artist, entrepreneur or gardener my aim is to connect the mental and spiritual with the material and practical. My work is the alchemy of colours: as a paint manufacturer I am in daily dialogue with the material properties of colour and their aesthetic aspects, and also their invisible dimension, with which art is ultimately concerned. I believe that matter, be it our bodies or the materials we use to create art, is a vessel for the spiritual. To receive and integrate the spiritual a consciousness has to develop. Craftsmanship alone is not

enough. The disposition for art, for the visionary, for the truly creative is a mental-spiritual one. Simplicity, humility, endurance and patience are needed to develop that. And what seems effortless is the harvest of long and arduous work. Light is the mother of all colours. From the unity of light the colours unfold in their diversity. This socalled visible spectrum is small compared to the entire spectrum of rays. It is perceived only when light encounters matter: a body, a star, a planet or a prism. Through this breaking of the light, colours appear, in their different wavelengths, from blue-violet to red-magenta. Colours are therefore simply waves of energy transmitting information. I have been privileged to be able to paint with wonderful paints from early on and have always been intrigued by the mixing and blending of colours, but the limitation of systems based upon the intermixing of the traditional three primary colours taught from primary to art school everywhere always bothered me because it leads to very limited and imprecise results. What is explained in theory doesn’t work in practice. For instance, mixing the primaries should yield black, yet it produces brown. This led me to ask why there can’t be a simple and clear colourmixing system that transcends these limitations and bridges the concerns of art and science. So in 1995 I began to research the development of an expanded colour system based on five primary colours, which works as a more precise mixing system. The purity of the colours and their balanced frequencies allow an effortless means of mixing an unlimited range of harmonious, lively and differentiated nuances. The new system, which I named Sirius Primary System (Sirius being the brightest star in the winter), demonstrates that every material colour inherits the metaphysical dimension of its cosmic origin. Barbara Diethelm (www.barbaradiethelm. com) will lead a workshop on Cosmic Colours at the Tagore Festival in May. For further information visit www.tagorefestival.com Epithets of Sekhmet

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Images: Barbara Diethelm

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ART S & C R A F T S  L A N G UAG E OF THE SOUL

The Age of

Beauty Novelist Linda Proud celebrates the life of Botticelli, whom she describes as a “painter of Soul”

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ention Love or Beauty, and often the images that spring to mind are those of Sandro Botticelli’s great trinity of Venus paintings: Primavera, The Birth of Venus, Venus and Mars. That serene and lovely face of Venus has become the very icon of the Florentine Renaissance. It is astonishing that some of the greatest artistic talents of all time were born in the same city in the same century. At the beginning of the period we have Masaccio, Brunelleschi, Donatello and Ghiberti; at the end, Leonardo and Michelangelo; and in the lull between these two great ages of giants came Fra Angelico, Fra Filippo Lippi and Sandro Botticelli. These were not men of virtù – seeking excellence, seeking always to be bigger, better, more innovative, more shocking and controversial than their predecessors or their rivals. These were men in an oxbow lake, away from the flowing river, on a quiet water of deep reflection. Painters of Love and Beauty: the very men preferred by the Medici as their interests grew increasingly philosophical. Since the Great Council of 1439, in which the Greek and Latin Churches had met in Florence in an attempt to heal the schism of East and West, Cosimo de’ Medici had harboured the ambition to

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Venus, from The Birth of Venus, c.1485, detail, by Filipepi Sandro Botticelli Image: The Art Archive/Galleria degli Uffizi Florence/Alfredo Dagli Orti

refound the Platonic Academy, but he did not do so until 1464. Meanwhile he had raised and educated the son of his physician to the task of translating the Dialogues of Plato from Greek into Latin; Marsilio Ficino gave his life to the work, and translated every major text in the Western tradition: Hermes Trismegistus, the Neoplatonists, Plotinus. Through Ficino and the Academy, the great Platonic triad of Truth-Beauty-Goodness entered, or re-entered, Christendom (its previous arrival in the 12th century had given rise to the Gothic cathedrals). In the 1460s, the young Botticelli was training under Lippi, a Carmelite who was living with a runaway nun. Cosimo, however, recognised in this unholy friar a divine quality, which

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he called ‘genius’, and commissioned several works from him, some to be done in situ in the Palazzo Medici. As Lippi’s apprentice, Botticelli would have met and perhaps befriended a boy four years his junior: Cosimo’s grandson, Lorenzo. Perhaps one inspired the other; perhaps they arrived at it individually; but they shared a life-long love affair with the poetry of Dante. As Ficino was tutor to the young Lorenzo de’ Medici, Botticelli would have been familiar with the philosopher; he was obviously a sponge to his teachings. Also in the Medici household was the poet Angelo Poliziano. Between them Ficino and Poliziano informed Botticelli’s ‘pagan’ imagery. When in the 1480s the Medici and their kin were commissioning paintings for domestic settings – paintings for the soul rather than the spirit – they turned to the painter who understood what Ficino was talking about when he spoke of “the planets within”; who, listening to Poliziano reciting his vernacular poetry about Venus, closed his eyes and breathed in images. To breathe in – inspiration. Botticelli breathed in the ideas and imagery of the poets and philosophers and breathed them out onto panels – expiration. Owen Barfield – one of the Inklings – had a phrase for an artist or author who partakes of the divine spark: “mythopoeic sub-creator”. Man as instrument of the Divine. With Botticelli’s mythic paintings, we are at that level. Despite Botticelli’s long and productive life painting devotional panels and altarpieces, these days his name is linked almost exclusively to his soul images, images that seem to defy explanation. Since the dawn of art history, no one has succeeded in pinning out the Primavera like a butterfly and naming all its parts. Something always slips, sidesteps, eludes us: some glimpsing, winking nymph just out of sight behind the oleanders. For what Botticelli painted was symbol or myth, not allegory. Such images work on the viewer’s soul, and the Primavera was designed, almost as a magical operation, to open hearts. Whether the central figure is Venus, or the Virgin Mary, or – as has recently been proposed – Luna is a matter for the viewer to decide. Botticelli isn’t going to tell you. This art is not prescriptive. It is an evocation of the Otherworld of the Soul, using wonderfully detailed and realistic elements from this world (note the flowers and meadow plants, not to mention the toenails). While we may have no idea what the Primavera is about, it gives us a profound experience of Beauty. It must have been astonishing for Botticelli to make up images out of his own imagination, inspired by readings from classical and Neoplatonic texts. He was perhaps one of the first artists to experience creative freedom, and he did not shrink from it. The model he used for his archetypal female figure was Simonetta Vespucci, a young noblewoman who

lived in his district of Ognissanti. His soul paintings all occur within a very short period – less than 10 years. It is the golden age of Lorenzo the Magnificent, the springtime of the Renaissance, a time of jousts, pageants and great processions of the Magi. Drums, lutes and showers of roses. It is the Age of Beauty. An age that was to be destroyed by the fundamentalist preacher Savonarola. In some respects, Savonarola brought morality back into Florentine life and behaviour, but he never understood the Platonists and he had a deep distrust of beauty. In his rise to civic power, he ousted the Medici; Beauty fled with them into exile. As the world grew dark and increasingly

It is an evocation of the Otherworld of the Soul

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disturbed, Botticelli turned to a project that was to occupy him until his death – the illustration of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Working in miniature, he again used details of this world as ingredients for his images of the next, whether it be hell, purgatory or paradise. Was Botticelli a follower of Savonarola? He certainly seems to have believed in Savonarola’s prophecies and to have had hope in his message of a renewed Church, but he was not a zealot. Instead he was a man trying to keep an open mind whilst retreating more and more into a deeply spiritual world of his own. In his last paintings, such as The Tragedy of Lucretia, the architecture takes over, as if to give some stability to a life that, in the millennial ‘one and a half time’ of 1500, was fast becoming the apocalypse Savonarola had prophesied. Botticelli speaks cryptically of these ‘woes’ in a text he wrote in Greek and hid beneath the frame of The Mystic Nativity. Where his heart truly lay, however, is revealed in one of the very few facts we have of his life. When he died in May 1510, he was buried at his own request in the church of Ognissanti, at the foot of Simonetta Vespucci. Botticelli was the first painter of Soul, the first to give her a face and a form, and perhaps that is why we love him so much today. Both he and Ficino were almost forgotten in the succeeding centuries. Their revival coincides with the philosophical and psychological renaissance of our own age. That’s what happens with ‘mythopoeic subcreation’. When man has faith in his own genius, when he is inspired by his own soul, when he steps aside from the rivalries of fashion, his art touches the eternal. Linda Proud is the author of three novels set in the Florentine Renaissance known collectively as The Botticelli Trilogy. A fourth, about Fra Filippo Lippi, is to be published in spring 2011. www.godstowpress.co.uk

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ART S & C R A F T S  E X H I B I T I O N: THE ROMANTICS REHANG

The Art of Liberation Far from being vapid ‘Nature worship’, the Romantics’ engagement with Nature was both passionately emotional and intellectually, even scientifically, incisive, writes Harry Eyres

Romantic’ has become almost a term of abuse. Listening to the Radio 4 programme Start the Week a little while ago I heard the presenter Andrew Marr say “This programme has an anti-Wordsworth policy”, referring to the greatest English Romantic poet. No doubt he meant it partly as a joke, and the poet Craig Raine, also on the show, had the presence of mind to cry “Shame on you!” but the implications were spelled out by another contributor, the writer and psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist: “Nowadays we think of Romantic as signifying something a bit woolly or self-indulgent”.

The Romantics saw a deep connection between humans and Nature In this context the rehang of the Romantic artists in the Clore Gallery at Tate Britain, home to the Turner Bequest, takes on special relevance, even urgency. The rehang has been widely criticised – perhaps because it dared to tamper with one of the sacred spaces of British art; one critic called it “an infuriating shambles”. I felt quite the opposite: invigorated and stimulated to reconsider artists who might on one level seem familiar (Turner, Constable) but who, put into fresh juxtapositions and seen with undulled eyes, still have the power to challenge mechanical ways of thinking and even inspire us to a renewed vision of what it is to be human and how to be at home in the cosmos. How desperately we need that. On first inspection the presentation of the Romantics may be disconcerting and not obviously coherent. What do the kitschy soft-porn fantasies of Henry Fuseli have in common with Constable cloud-studies? What do Blake’s writhing figures, looking back to Michelangelo and forward to Munch, have in common with anything? But Romanticism was never a single coherent movement: more an explosion of talent and vision. On the other hand, certain powerful and recurring themes emerge. The Romantics were fundamentally concerned with freedom and energy. You can trace the

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concern with freedom, or liberation, back to Rousseau’s clarion call from chapter 1 of The Social Contract, “Man is born free and is everywhere in chains”, and connect it with the revolutionary energy that brought forth the shaping event of the age, the French Revolution. But the Romantic concern with freedom goes deeper than ‘regime change’. The visionary early Romantic poet and artist William Blake interpreted Rousseau’s statement at many different levels. One of the most fascinating rooms in the rehang presents the group of tiny hand-coloured etchings recently discovered and bought by Tate Britain in January 2010. They don’t seem to be about freedom at all, but more about mental agony, imprisonment, slavery and torture; one is entitled Who Shall Set the Prisoners Free? Blake realised that our “mind-forged manacles” are even stronger and tougher to break out of than the physical handcuffs of an authoritarian regime. In the name of ‘economy’ or ‘progress’ we continue to subject parts of ourselves, and others, and Nature to deathly torture and exploitation. The dark side of Romanticism is not just about subjective feelings of gloom and doom, or thwarted love. Romanticism arose, in part, as a great movement of protest against the tyrannical reign of a certain kind of rationality whose hidden, or not-so-hidden, costs continue to rise while the benefits seem more and more questionable. The positive side of Romanticism is about energy. “Energy”, said Blake, “is Eternal Delight”. The Romantics saw a connection between the deep human energies – love, desire, sexuality, creativity, mourning and melancholia (the black holes of human energy) – and the energies of Nature, of light, water, wind, seasons, the sea, the clouds. Far from being vapid ‘Nature worship’, the Romantics’ engagement with Nature was both passionately emotional and intellectually, even scientifically, incisive. Nature for earlier artists was almost always a backdrop to human events. The Romantics looked more closely at it and more deeply into it than any previous artists in history, with the possible exception of Leonardo and Dürer. Rubens and Rembrandt had done marvellous studies of human faces, but no one had studied clouds the way Constable did, out

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Norham Castle, Sunrise, circa 1845, by Joseph Mallord William Turner

in the open, in all weathers, noting not what a cloud ‘should’ look like, but how it actually behaved. Turner’s view of Nature was rather different from that of his great rival and contemporary Constable, who loved the broad-leafed greenness and loamy brownness of his native Suffolk countryside. Turner hated English green. This extraordinary, restless artist looked for inspiration as much to Italy – to the classical landscape of the bay of Naples, to the lightand water-filled cityscape of Venice – as to English hills and lakes. What Turner saw, which no one had seen before, and which would open the way to the French Impressionists, was the interpenetration of Nature and the human world. It is not just that the natural world is shot through with human traces and influences, but that we are forces of Nature. The shimmering domes and sinuous gondolas of Venice seem to be as much part of the ‘landscape’ as the water and the clouds. At the same time, the bright and bushy-tailed young man we see looking out at us with disconcerting directness from Turner’s early self-portrait has a distinctly feral quality. Turner’s magnificent painting The Bay of Baiae, with Apollo and the Sibyl looks at first sight quite like a Claude Lorraine, but the closer you look, the odder it gets. The glowing light on the vegetation climbing

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Image: Tate Images

the hills, the strange details, a rabbit, a snake, even the intensity of the blue sky seem almost surreal. The painting tells the story of the Cumaean Sibyl, who asked the god Apollo for unlimited life. She forgot to ask for eternal youth. Human creations, the traces of ancient civilisations, are doomed to decay; Nature alone has infinite powers of regeneration. Science continues to provide strengthening evidence that our relationship with Nature has become dangerously unbalanced. But unlike the Romantics we seem to be proceeding ever further into what the philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty called “an absolute artificialism”, choosing to cut ourselves, especially our children, off from direct contact with Nature, preferring the flickering shadow-world of virtual reality. At the same time an increasingly authoritarian form of capitalism, with governments willing to sacrifice basic public goods to apparently all-powerful financiers, is given the hollow name of freedom. The Romantics, you can be sure, would not have sat back and let the followers of Procrustes hack off the limbs of humanity and Nature to satisfy their abstract scheme of things. Tate Britain’s Romantics Rehang runs until the end of July 2011. Harry Eyres writes a weekly column in the Financial Times and is Editor-at-large of Resurgence.

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REV I E W S

LITTLE MAGIC Harland Walshaw enters a world where nothing is quite as it seems Lifelines: Selected Drawings of Truda Lane Resurgence Books, 2010 ISBN: 9781900322959 Wolfish Dog in a Winter Landscape

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he cover picture of Truda Lane’s enchanting book entices us into the world within. Between two lines of trees, an animal (a dog? a wolf? – the caption tells us it is a ‘Wolfish Dog’) sniffs tenderly at a sitting cat. The image is repeated in a floating circle. A girl in cloak and scarf clutches a tree trunk for support, for the wind is blowing fiercely through the branches. At her feet, birds peck the ground for food. Flakes of snow are falling, and there are stars in the sky. The dog, the caption continues, transformed an everyday landscape into something remarkable. And here is one clue to the particular magic of these drawings. The world they depict is indeed everyday, and firmly rooted in reality. The buffeted trees, for all their rhythmic movement, are solid objects, the history of their growth delineated in their knobbly twisted trunks. Whenever buildings appear, they are not only carefully observed: they are real structures, with their lintels, keystones and cornerstones. Truda Lane, in her Introduction, describes structure as the source of life, dynamic energy and movement, and of course she means the structure of the whole drawing. She defines a good drawing as one that you can set bones from, and within this structure little bits of magic are occurring. A Derbyshire farmhouse is lit up by a glimpse of the fiery sun. “As we stopped to buy eggs,” the artist explains, “the woman of the house excitedly announced that the sun was about to appear round

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the hill for a brief few minutes, the only time during the day it could be seen”. At the top of the steps against a Devon stone barn, a boy is waving a sparkler around, the brightly coloured sparks echoing the pale stars in the night sky above. “There is still some magic left”, the title informs us, and it is this magic that informs these drawings and watercolours. The subject matter can be classical myth or fairytale, small observation or works of literature. One wonderful watercolour is inspired by T.S. Eliot’s Ash Wednesday: “Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper tree | In the cool of the day…” The first stars of the evening are in the sky, and a skull and bones lie nearby. In the poem, the bones sing: “We are glad to be scattered, we did little good to each other.” In the watercolour, they say, “Sancta Maria ora pro nobis” – Blessed Mary, pray for us. We encounter a Creation Myth. We meet Aengus, the Celtic God of Youth, sitting under a tree with his four birds round his head, and a leopard and butterflies nearby. A Greek boy, Melampus, buries a dead serpent, and her children lick his ears to reward him with the gift of understanding animal speech. And the winter sun is buried under the earth, a North American myth. Yet the domestic is never far away – a decorated soup tureen, a bowl of fruit, a vegetable garden, a cat curled up on a cushion. For all the delicacy of line, these pictures are full of energy and movement. The trees, which inhabit many of them, have the vigour of their

Image: Truda Lane

growth enshrined in their trunks, and their branches are blown by the wind, as the rushing deer run through them. “Stones have been known to move, and trees to speak,” said Macbeth, and these trees speak to us. Indeed, the title of one of the sections is Speaking Trees. In his perceptive Foreword, John Moat places Truda Lane amongst those artists – many of them women – “who bring to their work a vision so innately their own…that we tend to view them as apart from their time, impossible to categorise, and so perhaps eccentric”. He cites women novelists, poets and painters Emily Dickinson, Stevie Smith, Jean Rhys, Ivy Compton-Burnett, Gwen John, Winifred Nicholson, Mary Newcomb; but he could have included at least one man, David Jones, also quite out of the mainstream – a writer and artist who shared similar sources with this artist: myth, fairy tale, literature and the natural world. This book will be a revelation to most of those who come across it. It has been beautifully designed by Simon Wilby, and as the recent exhibition of Renaissance drawings in the British Museum showed, drawing is the most intimate of arts, where you feel closest to the artists themselves. These drawings and watercolours speak very directly of the inner life of Truda Lane. They are indeed lifelines, which tell a story of an English landscape, and a very English imagination. Harland Walshaw is an architectural photographer. To order your copy see page 66 or go to www.resurgence.org/shop

March/April 2011


R E VIEWS

ABSTRACT AFFINITIES Philip Vann discovers a visionary explorer whose depictions of Nature are wildly sensitive Kurt Jackson: A New Genre of Landscape Painting Bel Mooney, Tim Smit, Richard Mabey et al. Lund Humphries, 2010 ISBN: 9781848220416 Boat Cove, 2005, detail, by Kurt Jackson

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welve essayists – amongst them a poet, novelists, art historians and Nature writers – have created here an intricately rich portrait of the Cornish-based land and seascape painter Kurt Jackson (b. 1961). The son of two abstract painters, Jackson grew up surrounded by paintings. He tells Howard Jacobson that, as a boy, he “came home from school, got into rough clothes and went looking in hedgerows, turning over stones, looking at birds”. After studying zoology at Oxford University, he and fellow zoology student Caroline trekked around Africa for a year, before settling, marrying and having children in Cornwall. Without any formal art education, Jackson started painting there with the kind of authentic passionate focus he has sustained ever since. Mike Tooby writes: “Jackson came to live in Cornwall in 1984. He spent five years in the place he first chose, Boscastle in North Cornwall, before moving to Penwith, also loosely referred to as West Cornwall. By settling above Botallack, he lives a long way from [the artistic communities of] St Ives and Newlyn. The central points of his locality are St Just and [a] straggle of former mining villages.” John Russell Taylor points out that Jackson is a traditional painter in the sense that “you cannot see any of his paintings…without being aware of a great underlying body of tradition” that includes, for example, “Turner’s later, more abstracted works” and “Constable’s more private watercolour sketches”. The wildly sensitive, spontaneous

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mark-making that pervades Jackson’s art, while inseparable from a real, sensuous observation of Nature, has affinities with paintings by American Abstract Expressionists, the intuitive expressionism of Joan Eardley’s 1950s’ and early 1960s’ Scottish seascapes and landscapes, and works by the contemporary German painter Anselm Kiefer. For example, Kiefer has extensively incorporated pieces of glass, straw, wood and plants into landscapes charged with dark historical resonances. Jackson started out melding sand and small pebbles into the paint surface but now opts for radically exploratory effects. Mark Cocker describes him incising “with a razor blade a bruised grey sky he has just laid on the paper”, and how “at one point…he uses all the digits from both hands and it looks as if he is playing the piano in his own wet paint”. Frequently, words are scrawled onto the paint – such as “the sun breaks through and the kittiwakes start to scream”. The overall result is that the viewer is absorbed, with an awestruck force, in Nature’s infinitely subtle and diverse atmospheres and rhythms. Jackson draws and sketches prolifically en plein air, making paintings later on in the studio based on diverse, accumulated studies. He is a real visionary explorer; canoeing, wading and swimming in many rivers, and traversing the Penwith moors with their megalithic burial mounds and stone circles. He is enmeshed in English woodland thickets, scorched in ancient Greek olive groves. Jacobson writes: “The

Image: courtesy Lund Humphries

amazing thing to me is that out of his weather-beaten artisanal bulk should come work of such exquisite sensuousness.” Richard Mabey notes: “What is impressive is his painterly translation of the ecology of wild places.” Terre d’Oliviers, big buzzy flies and hot happy grasshoppers within the shade of this olive tree is the informally inscribed title of a 2003 painting. Bel Mooney writes: “the olive groves of Kardamili represent an ancient transaction between humans, culture and the land. There has been a settlement in this region since the…time of Homer.” Jackson’s black olive trunks and branches are numinous, monumental presences, yet they seem to dance like some archaic, stalwart calligraphy across the earth shimmering pink and gold with parched grasses. Jackson’s painting of the A3071, dusk. Car lights from/into St Just, last night of the Millennium, reveals a both matter-offact and apocalyptic journey. It shows a patch of egg-yolk brilliancy glowing on the grey tarmac, itself glistening a delicious pink colour, partly reflected from an intense sunset red permeating the roadside. Beyond are stretches of interminable blackness. The Millennium reference is both starkly descriptive (as in a neat diary entry) but also, subtly, symbolically evocative of the bright hopes and aspirations, bloody possibilities and broodingly dark mystery evident at the end of one great historical era, and the beginning of a fresh one. Philip Vann is an arts writer.

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A STELLAR LIFE Chellis Glendinning is inspired by one of America’s greatest peace activists On Gandhi’s Path: Bob Swann’s Work for Peace and Community Economics Stephanie Mills New Society Publishers, 2010 ISBN: 9780865716155

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n the wild and eager 1960s a San Francisco radio announcer named Scoop Nisker ended each newscast with “If you don’t like the news… go out and make some of your own!” That is exactly what the US social innovator Bob Swann did – except that his handmade news sprang from the generation that paved the way for the activists of the sixties, just as we hearty souls laid some good ground for today’s youthful movers and shakers. Swann was a nonviolent war resister. He was a civil rights activist, an agrarian decentralist, and a pioneer of intentional communities, local currencies, micro-lending, natural architecture and land trusts. And along with fellow just-economics thinker Susan Witt, he co-founded the US-based E.F. Schumacher Society in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. On Gandhi’s Path provides the long view of this stellar life, penned by ecologist Stephanie Mills as fluidly as a breeze through one of her subject’s beloved New England woodlands. Robert Swann was born just as World War I was winding down, in 1918. He spent his formative years in a neighbourhood/forest matrix in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. The tightly knit sense of community and closeness to Nature on Sycamore Street laid the basis for a lifetime of ideas and passions. But the 1920s were also times of excessive corporate amassment of capital, and this fact – so blatant in industrialising Cleveland, with its Rockefeller and Carnegie mansions on Millionaires’ Row, and its exclusive golf course in Cleveland Heights – also had its impact on Swann’s growing psyche. Of particular interest in Mills’ quest to capture the vitality of the man who came from such a historical environment is the web of fellow newsmakers whose work interfaced with and enriched Swann’s own, and this piece of social-change-movement geography, beginning in the 1940s, is worth the price of the book. African-American war resister Bayard Rustin. Consummate decentralists E.F. Schumacher and Leopold Kohr. Organic homesteaders Helen and Scott Nearing. Radical resister Dave Dellinger. Organiser Marj Shaffer. Social philosopher Arthur Morgan. Regionalist Ralph Borsodi. Civil rights activists Juanita and Wally Nelson. Catholic Worker co-founder Dorothy Day. Writer Barbara Deming. MANAS editor Henry Geiger. Folk singer Pete Seeger.They were all there, each adding his or her own ingenuity to the building of a viable movement for peace and justice. And, of course, not as an in-the-flesh colleague but as a far-off light beaming first from South Africa and later from India, there was Mahatma Gandhi –

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Bob Swann Photo: Clemens Kalischer

whose belief in satyagraha, or respectful nonviolent noncompliance with injustice, inspired Swann to engage in “open resistance” to World War II. What followed was a two-year prison sentence, highlighted by conscientious-objector organising against the institutional racism and absurd regimentation that reigned – and eight months of punishment by solitary confinement. In January 2003, Bob Swann’s spirit passed from the world he worked to ease towards economic justice and peace. At a commemoration in Massachusetts at his E.F. Schumacher Society, the late religious philosopher Thomas Berry commented of Swann: “He was among the noblest persons I have ever known”. On Gandhi’s Path captures Swann’s person in such a straightforward way that it inspires us – in these disillusioning times of surreal war-making, downand-dirty poverty, total encasement by technology, and chaotic breakdown – with exactly what we need: to stay the path. And make our own news. Like Bob Swann, Chellis Glendinning grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Author of five books, including the award-winning Off the Map: An Expedition Deep into Empire and the Global Economy, she now lives in Bolivia. www.chellisglendinning.org

March/April 2011


REVIEWS

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX Photo: © Heather Hryciw/Corbis

Sophie Poklewski Koziell meets a philosophical mechanic The Case for Working with Your Hands: Or Why Office Work is Bad for Us and Fixing Things Feels Good Matthew Crawford Viking, 2010 ISBN: 9780670918744

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ere lies a serious discourse on the ways in which we work. Crudely summed up, it is a cross between Small is Beautiful and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, written for the 21st century by a mechanic-philosopher. Matthew Crawford starts by observing how little we make and mend, and how much we buy. Hand in hand with this trend is the decline of ‘industrial arts’ training in schools, which used to teach the basics of the manual trades. Crawford proceeds to investigate fundamental questions about the nature of work, and how and why it is changing. Is our increasing manual disengagement good for us? Does our work lead us down the path of passive consumerism? And how are our characters shaped by our work? This is not an idealistic call to go back to a bygone craft era. No: this book is grounded in reality. It derives its strength from its author, a motorbike mechanic with an unusual background. Crawford spent his formative years in a commune, skiving school and hanging around with electricians. He pursued a doctorate in political philosophy, and then after a brief spell as a disillusioned director of a think tank in Washington, he ran back into the arms of his first love – motorbikes – and started a repair shop. Here is a man who, because of his enquiring mind and quirky background, is not afraid to think outside the box. Two strands of writing style run through the book. The first is the voice of the academic philosopher. Reading these

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parts calls for focus, but reaps rewards.The other style is that of the ‘gearhead’ rebel. This is Crawford’s true voice. Through these passages the author freewheels through his life’s experiences as a mechanic, stripping down a 1975 Honda CB360 or building speed into his VW Bug. The book is unique because there are many philosophical mechanics, but very few philosophers who are mechanics. The section on the history of the ‘blue collar’/’white collar’ divide is fascinating. The social status attached to each, and how ‘blue collar’ work started to be degraded with the introduction of scientific management. How work that was once cognitively rich and required significant skill and experience, such as being a wheelwright, became fragmented and simplified when introduced into a factory environment. Now, it seems, we have become used to this ‘dumbed-down’ version of manual labour, and have so little awareness of what we’re missing out on that we don’t bother to protest. Yet when Henry Ford started his first car factories, he struggled to keep workers because they all walked out in disgust with the boredom of the work! These men had been hired from bicycle shops and carriage makers, where they had been involved in complex and rewarding manual work. Interestingly, to compensate for the tedium of Ford factory work, Ford had to raise wages to keep workers. The clean, serene, coffee-machine world of the ‘white collar’ worker is not immune either. The book charts the

way in which management has broken down previously engaging and complex mental tasks into work ‘processes’ that can be better ‘managed’. Work is becoming formulaic and intellectually empty. This has slowly led to a profound disconnection between most people’s work life and leisure life. They are generally unfulfilled at work and tolerate boredom in return for financial compensation, and through leisure they accumulate psychic nourishment. We have become so habituated to this set-up that we rarely question it. Crawford has no political agenda. He just offers his thoughts from the experience of his own life’s journey. His aim is not to spawn a new generation of mechanics, but to question the way we view and treat work. Obviously manual work is not for everyone, but it has been so ‘downgraded’ that many people are encouraged to sit behind computers, when they would be more fulfilled making, building and fixing things. Crawford champions manual competence, the experience it provides, and its intellectual and social rewards. He seeks to reverse the image that educators and management consultants alike seem to paint of the manual trades as “cramped and paltry: the plumber with his butt crack, peering under a sink”. And, he doesn’t fail to point out, “that filthy plumber might be charging eighty dollars an hour”. Sophie Poklewski Koziell is an Associate Editor of Resurgence.

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GREEN THE WORLD John Clarke reviews a book of great inspiration and hope

GreenSpirit: Path to a New Consciousness Marian Van Eyk McCain (ed.) O Books, 2010 ISBN: 9781846942907 Photo: © iStockphoto.com/skodonnell

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ome readers may remember The Greening of America by Charles Reich, published 40 years ago, which spoke of the coming transformation in consciousness, nonviolent revolution to confront corruption, poverty, environmental destruction, powerlessness, dehumanisation of work, our loss of community and loss of the spiritual. Sound familiar? Give or take a few details, are we not facing similar crises today? There is still much talk of the need for a new worldview, of a new green consciousness; and an acute awareness that we are in an advanced state of crisis – environmental, social, spiritual. So, what happened to the revolution that Reich and others promised? GreenSpirit is a bold attempt to revisit these issues from a contemporary standpoint, with a strong emphasis on the need for a spiritual approach, and to deeply question our cultural assumptions. The editor has brought together a variety of contributors from a wide range of experiences, disciplines and traditions. The book, with its 30 contributors, is skilfully welded together, and is guided along five ways: The first is the way of consciousness, which emphasises the need for new understanding and a change in human thinking. It involves a reorientation within Nature and the cosmos as a whole, a shift away from an individualistic approach, and the cultivation of a new sense of the sacred.

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The second is the way of selfunderstanding, of knowing who we are, and what is involved in the spiritual path. This means reaching deep down into our weaknesses and addictions, but at the same time reclaiming our animal and bodily natures so that we can “reembrace that aspect of ourselves which has grown out of the Earth”. The third section opens up afresh the spiritual pathway itself. It draws on the world’s great religious and wisdom traditions. It is plain from the contributions in this section that it is not enough to rely on the riches of the past, but in our present condition we must learn to rethink these traditions. To quote Matthew Fox, “the religious consciousness of humanity has to wake up, to be reinvented, to be reborn”. The fourth way turns towards the greening of our culture at large, and the way we express our beliefs in our social life and in health, education, politics and economics. The importance of balance is emphasised in the idea of wellness that brings together body, emotions, mind and spirit, and links us with the wellbeing of the planet. In education new forms of schooling are needed, involving the cultivation of a sense of wonder and a recovery of feelings of kinship with the Earth. And perhaps the most compelling task at the present time is the rethinking of economics in ways that go beyond making money. The final section takes us beyond theory

and invites us to ‘walk the talk’, to examine every aspect of our lives so that we live up to our green ideals. We are enjoined to work with those ‘cultural creatives’ who actively pursue social justice and sustainability in their daily lives, and we are introduced to the history and practice of the GreenSpirit movement itself. Marian Van Eyk McCain has done an excellent job in assembling and editing such a distinguished collection of writings, and the book serves to remind us of the rich resources available from the various fields of cosmology, creation spirituality, Gaia theory, eco-philosophy, and eco-feminism – far more than in Charles Reich’s day. The volume is, to quote Brian Swimme, “chock full of creative potentiality”. On finishing it, the big questions that echo in my head are these: What is the world doing with all this richness, all this creative potentiality? When can we expect The Greening of the World? Because for all our advances in green wisdom over the past 40 years, the green revolution Reich predicted did not happen. Forty years from now, will we still be looking forward to rather than enjoying it? It is up to us. As the editor points out at the end of the book, we are jewels in Indra’s net; hence our actions are reflected ad infinitum. John Clarke is professor emeritus in the history of ideas at Kingston University, and is a former chair of the Scientific and Medical Network.

March/April 2011


REVIEWS

BLUEPRINT FOR CHANGE

Matt Carmichael welcomes a positive vision of a more desirable future Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth Juliet B. Schor Penguin Press, 2010 ISBN: 9781594202544

Photo: Losevsky Pavel/shutterstock.com

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n January 2009 I attended the opening of the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the University of Leeds, at which Nicholas Stern was a keynote speaker. Three months earlier The Daily Telegraph had announced the end of capitalism, yet the conference might as well have been held in the boom times. It was a thoroughly dispiriting taste of business as usual the ‘environmental’ way. Former Harvard economist Juliet Schor’s first sentence in her book Plenitude is “Global capitalism shattered in 2008.” She goes on to describe the shocking scale of the problems we face. She calculates that the weight of material extracted to provide the average American with their daily shopping is 362lb (164kg) – that’s the equivalent of the weight of a racehorse every three days. She lists the false assumptions made by the standard economic model, squares up to global warming and pulls the rug from under the ‘ecological’ economic models that encourage further growth before we act to cut emissions. You’d think this would be a depressing read, but its power lies precisely in its ability to be frank without getting you down. Schor’s agenda here is to get away from what she calls “tradeoff thinking”, in which we weigh the pros of growth against the cons of environmental and social responsibility. Plenitude is a blueprint for a new economics of true wealth on a finite planet, a positive vision of a desirable future. Schor offers four principles for plenitude, which she summarises as “work and spend less, create and connect more”. In turn they yield the ecological benefits of ‘emit and degrade less’ and the human ones of ‘enjoy and thrive more’. It’s her third principle that is most provocative. She claims that

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the economic alternative to the false materialism of symbolic purchases and sickening waste is “true materialism”. The alternative to ‘we want more’ isn’t ‘we want less’ (because hardly anyone does) but ‘we want better’ – the consequence of which is requiring less. “True materialism” is a passion for quality over quantity, valuing skills, and demanding to know where things come from, where they go and who is affected along the way. It encourages long-lasting goods, repairing, sharing, reusing and recycling. This is the deliberate “creation of a rich, materially bountiful life”. That’s a message you can sell. If there is a weakness, it is in Plenitude’s avoidance of any discussion of the vested power interests that entrench false materialism and resist change. Schor dodges this one by saying that plenitude is a strategy that we can start now. We don’t have to wait for government or Wall Street to get on board. We can be “pioneers of the micro activity that is necessary to create the macro equilibrium to correct an economy that is badly out of balance”. Throughout the book, the author gives countless examples of ordinary everyday pioneers. Yet my feeling is that the powers behind ‘business as usual’ are loath to cooperate. She says, for example, that raising the price of oil to reflect its real costs is necessary, without actually tackling the political realities that make it so unlikely. Plenitude will, I believe, be a vital part of a change that isn’t quite as easy as Schor implies. Matt Carmichael is Secretary of Schumacher North. He is currently writing Echoes of the Sun, a book about rest and replenishment for tired people on a tired planet.

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TREADING LIGHTLY

Climate and Christ: A Prophetic Alternative Edward Echlin Columba Press, 2010 ISBN: 9781856076906

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ntil about a quarter of a century ago, with few exceptions, most Christian Churches were absent from any mainstream ecological debate. Many ecologists, on the other hand, professed to belief in a God, a Universal Spirit, or a Grand Designer behind Creation, but did not subscribe to any formal religious faith. They either saw this as an irrelevance, or they held the Judaic-Christian tradition, in its various forms, as being responsible for many of today’s interrelated planetary crises. It is only comparatively recently that some Christian leaders have joined forces with environmentalists to speak out with increasing urgency in defence of the Earth’s ecosystems and of future generations. An indisputable trigger has been the recognition that the Earth’s climate is changing rapidly, leading to unpredictable climatic disasters. One early proponent of Christian ecological lifestyles is Edward Echlin, a Jesuit-trained theologian who, with his wife Barbara, was an early member of Christian Ecology Link (CEL). In Climate and Christ he links Jesus Christ’s teaching and itinerant ecological lifestyle with a blueprint for Christian action on climate change. Jesus and his disciples inherited the Jewish agrarian tradition, leading a prophetic ‘alternative lifestyle’, treading lightly on the Earth and living mainly off the land, supplemented by fishing. The Gospels point to a fellowship of sharing and sufficiency, never taking more than was required. Echlin admits that this particular

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itinerant life is impracticable in today’s society. However, if the principles of frugality, partial self-sufficiency and local sustainability could be adopted, not just by Christians but by individuals and communities from all faiths and walks of life, it would significantly contribute to mitigating the effects of climate change. Writing in the aftermath of the UN Summit in Copenhagen in December 2009, where 102 leaders of participating countries failed to reach a binding agreement on the reduction of carbon emissions for fear of curtailing their competitive economic advantage, Echlin urges Christians now to take the lead. The first part of the book describes what climate change is, the process of positive and negative feedback, and the imbalance of radiative forcing set in motion by our anthropogenic activities. Echlin challenges each of us not only to drastically reduce our own CO2 emissions to counter positive feedback, but to facilitate and even to be forces for negative feedback before a global tipping point is reached. The second chapter points to the evolving contextual changes in our understanding of science as it develops and, in parallel, to the contextual evolution of theology. Humans are no longer considered as being the centre of God’s creation but as being a responsible part of it, and Christian theology must now integrate evolution. We are reminded that the words humus, humble and human are all derived from the same root. Directly linking Jesus’ example and

teaching with today’s messages and warnings about climate change may not always be easy when relying solely on the Gospel texts and contemporary commentaries. However, this is the underlying theme of the third part of the book. The final chapter is an inclusive call to action by everyone. Cooperation needs to be global, led by faith and political leaders, and also local. No one should underestimate what can be achieved by individuals or by communities producing at least some of their own food, harvesting and conserving water and recycling raw materials. Echlin’s own motivating gurus happen to be the recently beatified Cardinal John Henry Newman, the eminent French palaeontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and John Seymour, an erstwhile contributor to Resurgence. The text is thoroughly researched, with a plethora of references to contemporary scientific and technical papers and report, but what I enjoyed most was the author’s own enthusiasm for the soil and its myriad fellow inhabitants, his delight in his own garden and its seasonal produce, and his many personal anecdotes. This book should send even urban able-bodied readers reaching for a communal spade and seeking out the nearest plot of uncultivated land. Diana Schumacher is co-founder of The Schumacher Society, the New Economics Foundation (nef), the Gandhi Foundation and the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF).

March/April 2011

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/Luoman

Diana Schumacher is inspired by a timely reminder that ecology and faith share common principles that, if adopted, will help mitigate climate change


REVIEWS

SATURATED WITH SOUL Stephan Harding revels in a book with such transformative potential that you will need to read it twice Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology David Abram Pantheon Books, 2010 ISBN: 9780375421716

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avid Abram is a true magician, superbly skilled in both sleightof-hand magic and the literary art of awakening us to the superabundant wonders of the natural world. He is one of America’s greatest Nature writers, and this book is the long-awaited sequel to his earlier masterpiece The Spell of the Sensuous, which restores to modern consciousness the ancient animistic sensibility that everything is saturated with soul. The essential achievement of Spell was the revelation of how all beings, living and non-living, palpably bring us home to the pulsing heart of the world when we listen to their long-stifled voices, and in Becoming Animal Abram carries us off on new and enlivening journeys into the radically exciting possibilities of this animistic style of perception. This is a book of such transformative potential that it needs to be read twice in quick succession to get the full benefit. I did just this, starting again as soon as I had finished my first reading so that I could savour much that I had missed in that first immersion. The language is luminous, the style hypnotic. Abram weaves a spell that brings the world alive before your very eyes, as everyday things that seemed dead take on new life, new meaning and a new purpose. Take shadows. For Abram, they are the remains of the night’s sentience that survive the day by glueing themselves to objects exposed to the glaring light of the sun. As the sun disappears behind the

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Adivasi Tribe paintings, Jharkhand, India

Photo: Robert Wallis/Panos Pictures

horizon, shadows slowly seep back into the world. And when night finally arrives, we are carried into the “mammoth shadow of the Earth” and hence into the particular style of awareness adopted by the very Earth itself as it contemplates the vast spaces of its intergalactic habitat, speckled with stars and planets. Abram also enlivens our takenfor-granted sense of depth with the transformative power of his perceptual magic. When deep in the mountains, he enters into that “elixir state of mind called ‘wilderness’”, in which the landscape reveals its psyche by metamorphosing around him as he explores its rugged contours. He experiences the landscape walking past him rather than the other way around. Thus does the world reveal itself in its ambiguous depths as Abram discovers himself deeply inside the physical world. Even clouds, he says, are part of our turning world, pulled as they are by the thickness of the atmosphere itself. So he gives us a new word, Eairth, to remind us that the air is as much a part of the Earth as the biosphere, the waters and the rocks, and that our ‘i’, or self is totally immersed in the swirling air. Eairth implies that we live in the Earth and not merely on it as disconnected observers. I hope that by now you are beginning to sense the measure of this marvellous book. But perhaps you also feel a certain scepticism creeping into your bones.

For how can it be that inert objects and even mere shadows are alive? Isn’t Abram indulging in an anthropomorphic projection, valuable as poetry, perhaps, but certainly not a genuine way of knowing? Abram counters this by pondering the possibility that it was this very animistic sensibility that helped our ancestors to survive, for they could not have flourished without being able to discern the shifting mood of a winter sky, or without a felt rapport with all the complex entities in their immediate surroundings. I find these arguments compelling, suggesting as they do that that our senses are finely tuned to the rhythms and patterns of the animate Earth because the biosphere is, after all, the primordial creative matrix from which we emerged as a species. I have given you only the slightest hint of the many and varied treasures that lie waiting for you in this hugely important book. Now you must read it for yourself as a matter of urgency. For there is little chance that we will discover the restraint that we so urgently need to survive the massive global crisis that we have unleashed upon the world unless we learn to sense the world around us as a mysterious animate being that merits our deepest care and respect. Stephan Harding is Resident Ecologist and Head of Holistic Science at Schumacher College, and the author of Animate Earth: Science, Intuition and Gaia.

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a MORE human world African-born Barbara Nussbaum explains how better leadership will emerge from communally expressed humanity Illustration: credit

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ne of the premises of Personal Growth African Style is that the world urgently requires leaders who carry a greater consciousness of our shared humanity. In this context, Africa has a vital role to play. In order for our world to be whole, we need to reclaim the humanity that Africa’s heritage can give us. This is as important for emerging leaders in South Africa as it is for our continent and indeed the world. We all lose out from the limited, outdated view that still perceives the world from a disconnected, individualistic and fragmentary perspective. And so it is critical that we make the shift to a new kind of global leadership. Such a leadership would be born and nourished through a deep sense of interconnectedness and the experience of the communal responsibility that flows from a heartfelt feeling of belonging to a global community. Africa’s dominant worldview has for centuries taken the human being as the starting point, emphasising the dignity and worth of all, and relying on the philosophical constructs of ubuntu. Central to ubuntu is the idea that self evolves through identification with the larger community: umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu – ‘a person is a person through other people’. At their heart, such values call on each of us to be the kind of leader who knows that we are who we are because of other people and that as

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people, living together in the community of nation-state or world, we care about everyone in that community. The book builds on the best of what African humanity offers and aims to prepare younger leaders to live cocreatively in community; to paint a picture of what it would mean to reclaim communally expressed humanity; and to redistil and refashion the many important values that are the hallmark of Africa’s heritage in the context of a post-colonial world. It takes an optimistic view of all Africa has to offer, and unashamedly stands on the shoulders of Steve Biko, who, with others, said that Africa’s contribution to the world will be about giving the world a more human face. With all our knowledge, history and technology, we desperately need this. And although too few African political leaders embody the promise of their own heritage, Africa’s gift to global leadership lies deep in its roots – in a communally expressed humanity inspired by the collective wisdom and actions of all human beings. While studying 40 African dances to complete a graduate degree in dance therapy, I was moved by something I now name ‘African group emotional intelligence’, and the book seeks to enliven such communally felt emotional intelligence on an individual and a collective scale. This book was inspired by and written

for the younger generation who are seeking to make sense of who they are to become in a rapidly changing country. In inviting our students at CIDA City Campus in Johannesburg to reclaim the value of their past, we developed a reflective space and methodology for them to build a different future. Our book is an invitation to living with soul, claiming individual destiny, and living and learning together with more compassion and mutual accountability. Born in Zimbabwe to a Jewish family who fled the Germany of the early 1930s, I celebrate the great privilege of being born in Africa and being close to the cradle of humankind. At 16 I felt a youthful idealism to change the world, to heal what did not make sense, and I chose to blend the passion of a ballet dancer with the high ideals of a young person fascinated by the need for authenticity, compassion and connectedness. In a world that continues to choose to see Africa’s shadow rather than its light, this book takes a stand for the promise of a different kind of world, by reclaiming group emotional intelligence and confidence in emerging leaders, and restoring the values of ubuntu. Personal Growth African Style by Barbara Nussbaum, Sudhanshu Palsule and Velaphi Mkhize is published by Penguin Books South Africa. EAN: 9780143026389

March/April 2011

Homage to Steve Biko by Willie Bester Image: © Contemporary African Art Collection Limited/Corbis

REV I E W S  I N M Y OW N WO RDS


Image: Alberto Ruggieri

IN MY OWN WORDS  REVIEWS

A NEW LOGIC Sara Parkin explains why ‘positive deviance’ is the only strategy left to environmentalists

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uch of the green movement is still gripped by postCopenhagen tristesse – sadness caused by the loss of so much hope vested in an even half-decent agreement on climate change in December 2009. Some are trying to make the best of a bad outcome, but many remain paralysed by that failure of international leadership. Where to campaign now, and for what? The more recent 2010 meeting in Cancún marshalled the depressed and the cynical, but not the world leaders. But was it wise to invest so much hope in a meeting of heads of state in the first place? Did we really think the process and the stage management would enable 192 nations to agree what was in effect a common energy policy? In Copenhagen the national leaders were caught as much on the hop as were the conference organisers and a huge number of NGOs. No one behaved well. Lazily, the leaders imagined their ‘sherpas’ would fix some common enough ground so they could fly in and cross the odd image-boosting ‘T’. Foolishly, the organisers failed to understand that this really was decision time. Disgracefully, the campaigning NGOs were unable to construct an intelligible model of what a sustainable future could look like.

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I don’t want to underplay the difficulties of shifting anything or anyone onto a more sustainable trajectory, but short of some tremendous catastrophe, it won’t come out of huge international set pieces. Moreover, even if all countries had signed up to a far-reaching agreement to cut CO2, this would still have to be turned into action on the ground. Kofi Annan made this point forcefully at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002. The crisis, he said, is in implementation. We know what to do, so why don’t we do it? We’ve made a historical error in adopting a way of relating to each other that is mediated by the career of cash, rather than how successful we are in nurturing each other and the rest of life on Earth. But it was in this perverse (obstinately in the wrong; against the truth) world where financial power always trumps human welfare that the Copenhagen conference was conducted. And the NGOs proved that mass lobbying was not enough to build comprehension of, never mind confidence in, sustainability as a new logic within which to make sense of what to do next. So is the green movement at a turning point? Yes, I would say it is. Strategies and tactics of the last few decades have done a lot to raise awareness, though little to push implementation. We used to say “Think of your grandchildren”, but decades of inaction means that worrying about future generations has been overtaken by worries about this one. For me, the only strategy left to us is positive deviance. This simply means doing the right thing despite being surrounded by the wrong institutional structures. For 15 years now, Forum for the Future has run a Leadership for Sustainable Development taught masters programme, each year graduating students with the knowledge and skills to operate as positive deviants wherever they are living and working. And it is my own learning from setting up and teaching some of this course that I’ve tried to distil in a book, The Positive Deviant: Sustainability Leadership in a Perverse World. There are so very few courses like ours that there is little hope of flooding the job market with sustainability-literate people any time soon. So thankfully this is something that can be learnt and tried at home or at work because, counter to much theory about leadership, there is no one model or framework to squeeze yourself into. We each have a unique leadership persona, and working out what it is and building our confidence in using it for sustainability outcomes is what matters most. Helping as many people as possible to do that – whether you are starting out anew, or filling gaps – is why I wrote this book. Forum’s students report from their placement organisations a growing number of positive deviants. Everyone can become one. If unsustainable development was caused by zillions of unknowingly (I am being generous) wrong decisions and actions, then sustainability can be achieved through zillions of knowingly right decisions and actions. All you need to get started is in the book: enough knowledge, a range of skills to practise, plus lots of ideas, tools and devices to make it more likely that your decisions and actions contribute to sustainable development than not. (PS David Cameron has a copy already!) Sara Parkin is a founder director of Forum for the Future. The Positive Deviant may be bought at a discount via www.forumforthefuture.org (Proceeds to Forum for the Future). To watch a free webinar by Sara Parkin visit www.earthscan.co.uk/earthcasts

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STOPping Ocean Plastics STOP – Science and Technology against Ocean Plastics – is a UK-based non-profit organisation working to reduce the amount of plastic in the marine environment. Resurgence supports this work, and here we explain how you too can get involved

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his year, an estimated 5.5 quadrillion (or 5,500 million million) plastic nurdles (preproduction plastic pellets), weighing around 250 billion pounds, will be made and disposed of and in all likelihood will end up polluting the planet’s oceans. Vast swathes of our seas are already full of plastic which, when acted on by sunlight and wave action, releases toxins that are then absorbed by fish and plankton, ultimately ending up on our plates. STOP is working to change this. As well as lobbying governments and raising greater awareness of the issue, it is encouraging industry to ‘close the

loop’ on product life cycles and develop more sustainable materials. The charity also identifies and invests in practical solutions to clear plastic waste already littering the planet’s oceans and beaches. In June this year, STOP will host its first conference bringing together key stakeholders, including scientists, government, industry, media and consumers, to further identify practical solutions. Crucially, plastic manufacturers will be joining the debate. This coming together of different perspectives and ideas represents a positive step forward on this urgent issue, and Resurgence will be supporting the initiative and following the work closely.

Back to Front Resurgence supporter Roxana Summers is the founder of this inspirational project, which encourages the use of the nation’s front gardens for food production

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eople seem instinctively aware that the ability to grow food in our cities will be a critical factor in developing essential resilience in the coming decade, and we believe this is a trend that truly reflects a collective and progressive turning away from consumer culture towards a healthier, saner and more natural lifestyle. The Back to Front (BtoF) project was set up to promote growing food crops in front gardens as a once-more socially acceptable ‘norm’. Roxana, who is a member of Schumacher North (SN), explains the vision behind the BtoF idea: “I long to eradicate derelict front gardens and the notion that you can’t grow vegetables in the front garden…I long to see a city where neighbours get together to grow food and exchange produce. I think it will bring people together and make them more self-reliant.” www.backtofront.org.uk

The first STOP Live conference runs from 1st to 2nd June in Los Angeles, USA, and Resurgence readers who attend will receive a 10% discount on admission. Visit live.stopoceanplastics.org for more information on the conference and www.stopoceanplastics.org for more about the campaign.

supports...

Be the Change

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ast year, Resurgence reader Gill Coombs ran a series of ‘Living in Harmony’ workshops around the country, exploring how we live in relation to the people and planet around us. She’s currently planning a new series of workshops on the same theme for June 2011, called ‘Be the Change’. For more details and an outline of the day, contact Gill on 01249 730472 or info@gillcoombs.co.uk Read about last year’s workshops: www.gillcoombs.co.uk/natural-life.php

What do you think of this idea? Feedback from Resurgence readers is welcomed. The full version of this article can be found at www.resurgence.org The Community Page is compiled by Resurgence Deputy Editor Elizabeth Wainwright. editorial@resurgence.org

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March/April 2011


RESURGENCE GROUPS  MEMBERS

Photo: Richard Speirs

How to Start a Readers’ Group R

esurgence groups provide an opportunity for people to meet together in local groups, sharing ideas, an eco-friendly way of life, meditation and seasonal food. If there isn’t a local group near you – why not start one? Each group has the flexibility to arrange their own sessions and decide on the frequency of their meetings. There are no fixed rules! What is important is that everyone comes along feeling

optimistic and enthusiastic and leaves feeling nourished in body and mind. If you are interested, we can send you a starter pack which gives advice and information on how to set up your own group. We can also help by providing back issues, CD’s and other resources for your use and we can get in touch with Resurgence readers in your area to let them know you are starting a group. We can give them your contact details and

information on your group, and we can also list your details on our website and in the magazine. We intend to feature existing Resurgence groups in future editions of Resurgence and our current groups are listed below. To find out more or for a readers’ pack call Jeanette Gill on +44 (0) 1208 841824 or email members@resurgence.org

RESURGENCE READERS’ GROUPS Resurgence readers’ opportunity to meet together in local groups, sharing meditation, ideas, an eco-friendly way of life, and seasonal food. For more information on local groups across the UK, or to start your own group, contact Jeanette Gill: members@resurgence.org 01208 841824

Birmingham

Contact: Abdul Al-Seffar 0121 426 2606 alseffar@googlemail.com Meeting 3–4 times a year

East Devon

Contact: Christina 01297 23822 tinabows@hotmail.com Monthly at The Spiral Sanctuary, Seaton

Hampshire

Contact: Sue Routner 02380 620468 sroutner@yahoo.co.uk Bi-monthly at The Swan Centre in Eastleigh

Welsh Borders

Contact: Elaine 01981 550246 elaine@gaiapartnership.org Near Hay on Wye, 6.30pm, quarterly

Whitley Bay Group

Contact: Margaret 0191 290 1516 margaretevans.wb@gmail.com Meeting monthly

SOUTH AFRICA Cape Town

Leeds

Contact: Galeo Saintz +27 (0) 82 888 8181 galeo@galeosaintz.com Meeting every two months

North Cornwall

SUPPORTING GROUPS Hemel Hempstead

David Midgley david@schumacher-north.co.uk Bi-monthly meetings Contact: Simon Mitchell 01208 851356 simonthescribe@yahoo.co.uk Bi-monthly meetings at St Breward

Wales – Newtown area

Contact: Lucy Baird 07850 143737 luciarose@gmail.com This is a new group – watch this space!

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Contact: Paul Sandford Tel. 07767 075490 paulsandford28@yahoo.co.uk Meets on the 2nd Wednesday of the month

Shetland

Contact: Chris Dumont chris.dumont1@btinternet.com Monthly meetings

RESURGENCE SUPPORTERS Patrons (£5,000)

Roger & Claire Ash-Wheeler, Anthony and Carole Bamford, Roger Franklin, Kim SamuelJohnson, Lavinia Sinclair, Doug Tompkins, Michael Watt, Louise White

Life Members (£1,000)

Robin Auld, Klaas and Lise Berkeley, Peter and Mimi Buckley, Anisa Caine, Mrs Moira Campbell, Anne Clements, Mary Davidson, Liz Dean, Craig Charles Dobson, John Doyle, John and Liz Duncan, Rosemary Fitzpatrick, Hermann Graf-Hatzfelt, Guy Johnson, Michael Livni, Mill Millichap, Mrs O. Oppenheimer, Vinod Patel & Rashmi Shukla CBE, John Pontin, Colin Redpath, Jane Rowse, Gabriel Scally, Penelope Schmidt, Philip Strong

Sustainer Members (£500)

Mr G. Bader, Mrs K. Dudelzak, Marcela de Montes, Rosemary Steel

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MEM B E R S  R E A D E R O F F E R S

Gifts to Treasure from The Resurgence Trust Shop Find inspiration within the pages of these beautifully illustrated books. Treat yourself or give a gift that will bring joy, delight and inspiration.

LIFELINES

SELECTED DRAWINGS OF TRUDA LANE

Plus free, reusable eco-friendly bag (rrp £2.50) This series of drawings by Truda Lane evokes the magic of natural landscapes and of our inner worlds. Truda Lane has been a regular illustrator for Resurgence magazine for many years, and we are delighted to publish her first book.

£10.00 plus p&p 72pp, pb

(UK £2.20/EU £4.31/Rest of world £7.80)

IMAGES OF EARTH & SPIRIT Featuring the work of over 50 artists whose work has an enduring spiritual resonance, this exquisite book celebrates the Earth and the renewal of life. With over 140 illustrations.

£20.00 plus p&p 192pp, hb

(UK £5.50/EU £9.38/Rest of world £17.97)

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Reconnect with the Earth for a life of elegant simplicity

GIFT MEMBERSHIP INFORMATION: www.resurgence.org/members TO PURCHASE RESURGENCE ISSUES: www.resurgence.org/shop READ RESURGENCE BLOGS: www.resurgencetrust.blogspot.com “Let Resurgence be your companion to realise your dream for a resilient and sustainable future” – Satish Kumar Issue 265

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C L A S S I F I E D A DV E RT I S I N G CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING RATES ‘Small ad’ £1 per word incl. vat Semi-display ad (boxed classified) £5 extra Box number £10 Inclusion on our website £10 for two months 25% DISCOUNT when you book three consecutive adverts THE NEXT TWO COPY DATES ARE May/June 2011: 1st March 2011 July/August 2011: 2nd May 2011 All adverts are subject to our minimum specifications, available online at www.resurgence.org/advertise or by request. Please fill in the form on page 74 and send together with a cheque or card details to: Gwydion Batten, Resurgence, Ford House, Hartland, Bideford, Devon EX39 6EE Tel. +44 (0)1237 441293 Fax +44 (0)1237 441203 advert@resurgence.org

ACCOMMODATION CENTRAL EDINBURGH Friendly B&B in quiet Victorian street with superb views to Salisbury Crags and Arthur’s Seat. Varied continental breakfast. Walking distance castle, palace, etc. 5 min. main bus route. Tel. Moira 0131 668 3718 ST IVES, CORNWALL Organic B&B. Attractive house on the edge of town with spectacular views. Great access to beaches, headlands and galleries. Good rail and bus connections. Tel. 01736 797377 www.2albanyterrace.co.uk HIGHLANDS Warm welcome for readers at Cairnhill B&B, Dornoch, Highlands. Most dietary needs catered for.   Rest, relaxation and Reiki too.  cairnhillbandb@gmail.com   Geraldine 07540 645222 LARGE ROOM IN NW LONDON FLAT offered to cat-loving reader. Long or short stay, available November 2010. £80 pw inclusive. Long/short stay considered. Z 2/3. qigongshiatsu@tiscali.co.uk RURAL W SUSSEX Basic accommodation, in rural W Sussex, exchange for 10 hr PW garden work and/or help with elderly lady. Suitable couple, single female with gardening or caring experience. Unsuitable children/pets. Caroline 07867 548299

COURSES DISCOVER YOUR OWN MUSIC with The School of Creative Music Making. Our 2011 programme comprises four residential weekends for beginners and experienced players. www.creativemusicmaking.com or 01453 767061 SOAP-MAKING WORKSHOPS in South London. Telephone 0783 732 4985 for further details. Visit www.genesissoap.co.uk

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EMPOWERING POSITIVE CHANGE Weekend workshops based on Joanna Macy’s empowerment approach The Work That Reconnects. 8th-10th April with Chris Johnstone and Jenny Mackewn near Bath; 10th-12th June with Chris Johnstone and Jewels Wingfield at Monkton Wyld, Dorset; 18th-20th Nov with Chris Johnstone and Jewels Wingfield at Monkton Wyld, Dorset. One-year facilitator training/development group near Bath with Chris Johnstone and Jenny Mackewn starts weekend of 20th-22nd May 2011. For details, contact Chris (e) findyourpower@mac.com or see www.chrisjohnstone.info WELCOME TO THE GARDEN STATION Courses for you, art, planet and harmony. The Garden Station is a restored Victorian railway station in beautiful Northumberland, with a fabulous environmentally responsible cafe, a lovely woodland garden and art exhibitions. Tel. 01434 684391 www.thegardenstation.co.uk

SOUL TALK Pearls of Wisdom to Share and Explore. Monthly group meetings in Brighton. Tel John Dunn 01273 602299 and 07990 968714. Share the company of stimulating and likeminded people. MALIDOMA SOME African spirituality & ritual. Residential workshop ‘Healing with your ancestors’ at Hawkwood College Stroud 28-30 May. Also private divinations in London & Oxford. For more details email: richardpantlin@yahoo.co.uk

FOR SALE

CREATIVE MOSAIC WORKSHOPS IN SPAIN! Reconnect with your intuitive self through this amazing medium. More details: www.memorablemosaics.co.uk

SATISH KUMAR TALKS ON CD A selection of talks by Satish Kumar is now available on CD and DVD via the Resurgence website. Talks include Satish’s Schumacher lecture ‘Slow Down, Go Further’ (Dublin 2004), ‘Cultural Nonviolence’ and ‘Reverential Ecology’. To find out more or buy a CD/DVD online visit www.resurgence.org/satishkumar/video-audio.html

ECO-ARCHITECTURE

HOLIDAYS

ECO-ARCHITECTURE Planning & permaculture design. Sustainable ecological architecture and design of buildings, planning applications, planning appeals, Feng Shui advice. Email: Sophie@eco-architectureandplanning.com Telephone: 01235 529266 Website: www.eco-architectureandplanning.com

FOR ALL READERS who are considering a trip overseas, we would urge you to visit www.seat61.com to plan your journey by train.

EVENTS

NORTH DEVON Small, comfortable converted barn. Very pleasant location, 3m from sea, nr Clovelly. Open plan. Woodburner. Sleeps 2/4. Organic vegetables available. Tel. 01237 431589 or email b.baker@virgin.net

ECOHESION offers freelance lectures in 2011 ‘The Ecology of Economics’ – assumed ‘separability’ in an ecologically cohesive (ecohesive) world. Details: Stuart McBurney 0114 2888037

GLOUCESTERSHIRE Rural retreat/writing space. En suite room, stunning views, meditation room, kitchen, donation basis. 01452 849180 dolley@wrekintrust.org

March/April 2011


CHURCHWOOD VALLEY Wembury, nr Plymouth, Devon. For peace and tranquillity, s/c holiday cabins in beautiful natural wooded valley close to the sea. Abundance of birds and wildlife. Gold awards for conservation. Pets welcome. Tel. 01752 862382 churchwoodvalley@btconnect.com www.churchwoodvalley.com TOTNES Hope Cottage. Cosy cottage situated in centre of town, easy walking distance to the station. Sleeps up to 5. Parking, courtyard. Tel. 01803 866257 HOLIDAY COTTAGE ON COTSWOLD ORGANIC FARM Lovely south-facing holiday cottage at the end of the track. Woodburner, old Indian furniture, farm shop and café to visit, the whole farm to roam. See www.theorganicfarmshop.co.uk for details. RUGGED, BEAUTIFUL PEMBROKESHIRE Two eco-friendly, converted barns on smallholding. Each sleeps 4. Coastal path 2 miles. Tel. 01348 891286 holidays@stonescottages.co.uk www.stonescottages.co.uk TOTNES (SOUTH DEVON) Self-catering double-bedroom riverside apartment. Situated on the edge of the magnificent Dartington estate. Short walk along the river path to Totnes mainline station and town centre. Perfect base for exploring by foot, canoe and bike. Canoe hire available. www.littleriverside.com Tel. 01803 866257 Mobile: 07738 634136 ISLE OF SKYE Superb yoga studio, teacher available, sea loch, log stoves, self-catering 1-4 persons. No single supplement! Tel. 01470 592367 www.skye-yoga-holidays.co.uk PORLOCK 2 yurts for hire. Walks, beach, moors. 01643 862104 sue.voyager@hotmail.co.uk NORTH CORNWALL Beautiful 1940s’ Showman’s Wagon in secluded setting. Sleeps 2 (+1). Only 3 miles from coast. Eco-friendly holiday. Tel. 01288 341105. www.bakesdownfarm.co.uk WEST OF IRELAND Peaceful s/c accommodation in traditional farmhouse, rural Co. Clare on an organic smallholding. Well-situated for Burren and West Coast, walking, cycling, relaxing and nature. See www.leenorganics.com or tel. (00353) 6568 27460 ITALY, TUSCAN-UMBRIAN BORDER Lovely 17th-century farmhouse, flexible accommodation for 12-14, in two buildings (access for partially disabled), six bedrooms and four bath/shower rooms. In its own private curtilage in soft rolling countryside with far-reaching views and large swimming pool. Well sited for Florence, Arezzo, Cortona, Urbino and Perugia. Available year-round. www.laceruglia.com Tel. 01392 811436 or email slrs@perridge.com

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eco-friendly cottage, hartland Solar water, green central heating. Stunning coast & countryside views. Sleeps 4. 01237 441490 www.peaceandplentyholidays.co.uk email r.r@tosberry.com NORTH NORFOLK The Studio. Cley next the Sea. B&B. Very relaxed, friendly, Artist run (returned from East London). No pink frills or silly rules. Vintage/contemporary/traditional. Directly opposite beach road with wonderful panoramic marsh views – 2 minutes into village. Doubles and twin, extra mattress, cot. Guests’ sittingroom overlooking evening barn owl haunt. Big open fire, TV, piano, world film collection, walled garden. Children very welcome – lots of toys, cat & tortoise. Perfect for Blakeney Point seals, sailing, crabbing. Tel. Frances on 01263 740 382/07798 867 994 or email info@franceskearney.com ECOYOGA CENTRE provides genuine eco luxury Yoga retreats on West Coast Scotland, rooted in ancient hills and lochs. Highly experienced international and local Yoga teachers. Japanese-inspired Sento Bathing Dome. All natural Energy sources. Tel Nick and Rachel on +44 1546 810259 or visit www.ecoYoga.org LONDON HAMMERSMITH Nice B&B in family homes. Comfortable, centrally located. Direct transport to attractions, airports and Eurostar. Double £52, single £39 per night. Children’s reductions. Tel. 020 7385 4904 www.thewaytostay.co.uk SOUTH WEST CORNWALL Helford River area, quiet retreat, sleeps 2. Large garden. Tel 01326 231382 MID WALES Stream-side caravan, sleeps 4+. Conservation smallholding; abundant wildlife, pond, swimming, beautiful walks. Near Machynlleth and Centre for Alternative Technology. £150£170pw. No smoking. Also CAMPING. 01654 702718 greenholidays@yfelin.plus.com www.yfelin.plus.com WORKCAMPS IN GREECE €75/week 6 May – 3 June and 23 Sept – 7 October, for those with building, maintenance, DIY or organic gardening skills or wishing to be part of the support team. Free time every day for the beach! Tel: 020 8816 8533 Email: info@kalikalos.com, Website: www.kalikalos.com NORTH DEVON HOLIDAY COTTAGE Cosy one bedroom eco-house in beautiful location, short walk from Hartland and stunning coastline. Perfect for artistic or spiritual retreat. Call Hannah 07899 749864 YURTS AND HUT BY THE POND A single yurt , the 4-yurt camp , the hut by the pond and the shepherd’s wagon – all available on our Cotswold organic farm near Cirencester. Tel. 01285 640441 www.theorganicfarmshop.co.uk

NORTH CORNWALL Self-catering accommodation in spacious barn conversion. Sleeps 8. Secluded rural location. Ideal for visiting all attractions – Eden Project just 40 min. Well-equipped and very comfortable, with large private garden. Contact Jeanette and John Gill, Rocksea Farmhouse, St Mabyn, Bodmin, Cornwall PL30 3BR john@rockseabarn.co.uk www.rockseabarn.co.uk

MISCELLANEOUS FIRST IMPRESSIONS COUNT Proofreading and copy-editing by a member of the Resurgence team. Reliable, friendly service. Helen Banks 01726 823998 helenbanks@phonecoop.coop STRESSFUL LIFE? Articles, blog, professional coaching. Sustainable living, sustainable small business, how to downshift. www.sallylever.co.uk a legacy for the future Your legacy, however modest, to the Resurgence Trust could make the future a better one. For more information, contact Satish Kumar, The Resurgence Trust, Ford House, Hartland, Bideford, Devon, EX39 6EE, UK, or email info@resurgence.org LIVING LOW-CARBON? We want to hear from you! lowcarbonlifestyle. org is featuring 100-word ‘Lifestyle Reports’ on low-carbon products and choices as part of the new lifestyle resource. Examples are ‘My wood-fuelled Aga’, ‘My skiing holiday by train’ or ‘How I gave up my car’. If you can contribute a short report with photo we will be delighted. Contact hannah@lowcarbonlifestyle.org

PROPERTY FOR SALE IRELAND Co. Clare and surrounding areas: farmhouses, cottages, smallholdings, etc., in beautiful unspoilt countryside. Some within reach of Steiner school. Greenvalley Properties. Tel. (+353) (0)6192 1498 www.gvp.ie ALPUJARRAS, ANDALUCIA 15+ hectares stunning mountain land with three ruins. 1hr coast/Granada. Amazing views. Plentiful water from own spring. Neighbouring O’Sel Ling Buddhist Centre. Ideal retreat location, self-sufficiency/nature holiday project. £225,000 ono. Details/photos contact wilcojames@mac.com LONGING FOR BLUE SKIES, warm sunshine and golden beaches in a green and creative area? Here’s an amazing opportunity – a tropical tree house for grown-ups. The ocean is aqua and a wonderful temperature year round, the surf is great and currently it’s mango and lychee season. Where on earth are we? SE Queensland Australia in the beautiful Noosa Hinterland and offering the most stunning panoramic coastal views, privacy, position and potential. www.treetopsnoosa.com.au

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WEST CORK FARMHOUSE Three bedrooms, two bathrooms. West Cork farmhouse, wood-fired underfloor heating, solar 6kw wind turbine. Established 1ha organic market garden business ready to take over. €450,000. email lisheenorganics@gmail.com or tel. 00353 8685 93996

SITUATIONS VACANT SUMMER STAFF required for community-based holistic holiday Centre in Greece. Meals & accommodation offered for 2-12 weeks’ work exchange. Community interest,

vegetarian cookery, consensus decisionmaking, healing arts, creative arts, DIY or permaculture would be assets. Tel: 020 8816 8533 Email: info@kalikalos.com Website: www.kalikalos.com

WANTED “YOU’D MOVE TO RURAL FRANCE in a heartbeat, if you could only sell your house here... Well, would you swap your UK property for our old and lovely half-restored gem with some land? We’re quite serious. Call 01793 813766 or email talis@talis.net for more information.”

TAGORE FESTIVAL: REQUEST for offers of hospitality in the Totnes area. Resurgence is organising a week-long Tagore festival of the arts & crafts at Dartington Hall, Totnes in May 2011. We are seeking offers of hospitality for our speakers, performers & volunteers. If any readers have spare rooms and are kindly able to offer hospitality we will be delighted and grateful. Please contact Satish Kumar with your offers. Email: tagorefestival@ resurgence.org Tagore Festival, Schumacher College, The Old Postern, Dartington, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EA

Investment opportunities don’t get much bigger than this. Find out what on earth you should be investing in.

Guide to Climate Change and Ethical Investing

holden & partners

The Guide features over 120 climate change and ethical funds, articles from leading fund managers, including Pictet, Sarasin, Henderson, Cheviot, Impax, Meteor, Osmosis, Quadris, Goldfield Partners, Terra Global and Future Capital Partners, plus the unique Holden Runes Ratings.

Request your FREE copy at www.holden-partners.co.uk/guide or call 020 7812 1460 Peter R T Holden & Partners LLP are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority

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D I S P L AY A D V E RT I S I N G Photo: Elizabeth Wainwright

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Resurgence Weekend & Camp Near Malvern, Worcestershire, 28th – 31st July 2011 A weekend of talks, music, dance and crafts at Green and Away

Send your copy with PO/cheque/card details to Resurgence Advertising, Ford House, Hartland, Bideford, Devon EX39 6EE Tel: 01237 441293 Fax: 01237 441203 Email: advert@resurgence.org For full specifications please contact us or go to resurgence.org/advertise 25% discount for any advert booked in three or more consecutive issues FREE advertiser’s copy with box ads Inserts (by arrangement only): 8,000 at £70/1,000 +VAT; charity rate on request

Join us for a weekend of sustainable living in action. Organic food, woodburning showers, crafts and electricity from the sun and wind.

Speakers Peter Owen Jones,Vicar and BBC presenter Peter Harper, Director of Research, CAT Satish Kumar, Editor-in-Chief, Resurgence Kirsty Schneeberger, Director, Think2050

Workshops Be the change Drum ‘n’ Dance Open Space workshops Creative ceramics or mosaics Japanese Tea Ceremony Tai-Ji and meditation

Performance Poetry Martin Powell and Helen Moore Book early as previous events have been full! Early booking rate: £170 including all meals. Reduced rates available.

For programme and bookings email info@resurgence.org tel 01237 441293 www.resurgence.org/summercamp Green and Away: www.greenandaway.org Created by: www.fourthwallcreations.com

Photo: www.dianajarvisphotography.co.uk

This event will help raise money for The Resurgence Trust (Charity No.1120414) registered in England and Wales.

Get Phone, Broadband or Mobile services from The Phone Co-op and support The Resurgence Trust Call 0845 458 9040 to find out more. Issue 265

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HAWKWOOD

Resurgence smallrockwood box colour £92 ark per insertion or £69 each (25 chool of three. We areNov/Dec a co-educational NYrRetreat; Co-Creatin international boarding school Then in the Hampshire countryside, Jan-Feb offering a diverse(pub and 15 Dec) NYrRetreat; Co personalised programme Mar/April (openofday) study including pre-AS, ads AS and Review further with Gwydion A level subjects. Our aim is to provideJune/July an holistic(summer) education for

B P

Hawkwood College is a lovely, welcoming holistic education centre near STROUD in the Cotswolds.

CO- CREATING in Momentous Times

A Wrekin Trust TRANSFORUM with

Jude Currivan ~ Gill Edwards & others

Fri 25– Sun 27 March 2011 *

OPEN DAY

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around 65 students aged between 14-19 years that Tall old box: 60encourages wide x 136 high academic excellence, self£138 each (25%off) for series understanding, creativity and integrity in a safe, noncompetitive environment.

of

“A unique school” The Good Schools Guide, 2009

Monday 2nd May

10am10am-5pm Art * Crafts * Nature * Ecopsychology Creative Music Making * Movement Mindfulness * Health & Well Being Creative Expression * Poetry * Personal & Spiritual Development * Mysteries * Life Skills * Professional Training Come and be looked after! 01453-759034 www.hawkwoodcollege.co.uk

Living slowly, deeply, peacefully Centre for Contemporary Spirituality in Dorset close to the sea Encouraging clarity, self-acceptance, personal authority and a warm and compassionate heart. Non-religious, silent and introductory retreats. Skilled facilitation Highly recommended

01297 489615

Registered Charity No. 312865

retreatenquiries@bonhays.co.uk

Registered charity no. 281458

For information contact Vicki Lewin, Tel: 01962 771744, Email: enquiry@brockwood.org.uk Founded in 1969 by J. Krishnamurti. Part of Krishnamurti Foundation Trust

www.bonhays.co.uk

The Erasmus Foundation

Open Morning Saturday 6th November 10am to 12.30pm

O N L I N E A DV E RT I S I N G Resurgence(port).indd 1

13/07/2010 14:44

Increase your audience...

The Resurgence website gets an average of 50,000 visits per month Resurgence now offers online advertising for everyone who advertises in the magazine – just place your classified advert online for an extra £10 Display advertisers can place a banner linked to a website for an extra £20 For more information call 01237 441293 email advert@resurgence.org or visit www.resurgence.org and click on Resurgence Advertising Spiritual Teaching and Healing Centre In search of Peace, Truth & Wisdom

01986 798682

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All adverts are subject to our terms and conditions, available at www.resurgence.org/advertise or on request

www.erasmus-foundation.org

March/April 2011


BI JA

An International School for Sustainable Living Dehra Dun, North India

Bhoomi – Building Earth Democracy and

However, today this lifeline is under serious threat. Dam building, hydro electric projects and increasing pollution is destroying the Ganga. Save the Ganga Movements are emerging to create awareness on the threats to the Ganga and to find ways to protect the Ganga – our living heritage and life support. The Ganga Yatra will begin from Dehradun, travel through Tehri and Uttarkashi and end at Rishikesh with the Ganga Aarti.

Protecting the Rights of Mother Earth 3-5 October 2011

With Vandana Shiva, Cormac Cullinan As the assault on the Earth increases and the threat to human survival intensifies, new movements for Earth Democracy are emerging.Women of Plachimada shut down Coca Cola plants, tribal people of Niyamgiri shut down Vedanta’s bauxite mine, people everywhere are rising against landgrab. The course covers movement building for the defense of the earth and peoples’ rights. Participants have the option of attending the Bhoomi – The Earth Festival on 2nd October, 2011 in New Delhi.

Gandhi and Globalisation November 24 – December 4

The Ganga Yatra – A journey to witness India’s Lifeline under Threat 7-12 November 2011

With Sunderlal Bahuguna, other members of Save the Ganga Movement, the Navdanya team and local communities Ganga is India’s lifeline – spiritually, culturally and materially.

With Satish Kumar,Vandana Shiva,Venerable Samdhong Rinpoche The course on Gandhi and Globalisation will address the multiple crisis that globalization has unleashed – economic, ecological and political. Gandhi’s philosophy and politics are more relevant than ever before in finding ways to live peacefully, equitably and sustainably on this fragile planet. The course shows how Gandhi’s observation that the earth has enough for everyone’s needs and not for some peoples greed can be translated into emerging movements for the defense of the earth and people’s rights.

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Let us help you with: Feasibility studies, surveys, sustainable design, conservation, planning applications, building regulations, project management

All books featured in Resurgence may be obtained from the Schumacher Book Service, now managed by Green Spirit Books (Tony Jarrett, 56 Downlands Road, Devizes SN10 5EF) Tel & fax. 01380 726224 www.greenspirit.org.uk/books e-mail: greenspiritbooks@btinternet.com

Issue 265

GREEN ENERGY

For further information on fees and logistics please contact Mini Joy at: AMB3076 Resurgence Advert 3/3/10 17:20 Page 1 bijavidyapeeth@vsnl.net or bija@navdanya.net Tel +91 11 268 532 772

Human Rights

Independent Financial Advisers specialising in Ethical and Environmental Investments For all areas of Financial Planning including: • Investment • Retirement Planning • Advice on Discretionary Management Services • Life/Protection Planning • Inheritance Tax Planning • Tax Planning - including Self Assessment Returns • Mortgages • Building & Contents Insurance The Ethical Investment Co-operative The Station, Station Yard, Richmond, North Yorkshire DL10 4LD Tel: 01748 822402 Email: info@ethicalmoney.org www.ethicalmoney.org The Ethical Investment Co-operative Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority Offering Ethical Advice to Supporters of Amnesty

Support what you believe in - and invest for a better future

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RESURGENCE CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING COPY DATES

Issue 266 May/Jun Issue 267 Jul/Aug Issue 268 Sep/Oct

- 1st Mar - 2nd May - 2nd July

GENuiNE sustaiNability

Re-use those envelopes buy recycled anything el is just se rubbish

Our label ranges include these colourful designs with  recycling message - A6 size made from100% post-consumer waste paper - £2.95 for 50 post free.   Custom printed design with your message? - see website specialist suppliers of 100% recycled paper, card, envelopes, craft & card-making products

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WHY WE LIVE AFTER DEATH By Dr Richard Steinpach Why are we here on Earth today? How does the soul outlive the body? Where does it go in the Beyond? What happens to us over there? What is the real meaning of life? Irrefutable evidence coupled with new knowledge that clearly demonstrates how our Earth-life is but a short yet decisive episode in our entire existence.

To obtain this 69-page booklet free, please contact: THE GRAIL MESSAGE FOUNDATION 0845 658 5666 Dept. RJP, PO Box 3480, Rugby, CV22 5YW E-mail: GralGB@aol.com

the psychosynthesis & education trust

Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Psychosynthesis Validated by the University of East London

Open to anyone with appropriate life experience and understanding.

Central to psychosynthesis is a celebration of the vast potential of the human spirit. This programme offers an in-depth study of the psychosynthesis model of the human being within individual, interpersonal, social and global contexts.

* Please tick as appropriate

Please place in the following section: Accommodation q Communities

q Events q Holidays q Property for Sale q Situations Vacant q Boxed q Courses

q Eco-Architecture q For Sale q Miscellaneous q Property to Let q Wanted q Web q

Learn powerful tools, techniques and approaches for use by change agents and practitioners from a variety of fields, such as management, organisational and community development, education and the arts. The course blends emotional and cognitive learning, integrating personal experience with a theoretical understanding of key models and principles. The aims of the two-year programme:

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Develop students understanding of psychosynthesis as a core model of theory and practice.

Bring a psychosynthesis perspective to people seeking to develop themselves as reflective practitioners who wish to contribute to building a flourishing, just, resilient world.

Starts September 2011

Name Address Postcode Tel no. Email Please remind me when my advert expires: Yes q No q Adverts cost £1.00 per word (incl.VAT). There is a 25% discount for advertising in three or more issues. Payment must be received before placement of first advert. By submitting any advert for publication you are agreeing to our terms and conditions available at www.resurgence.org/advertise or on request.

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For information on any of our trainings and courses go to:

Bespoke designs, Contact Sheila, 01373 824971 : 07791 564884 www.sheilamurphyarts.co.uk

www.psychosynthesis.edu

92-94 Tooley Street, London Bridge, London SE1 2TH email: enquiries@petrust.org.uk tel: 020 7403 2100

March/April 2011


resurge 60x276:Layout 1

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MYSTICS & SCIENTISTS 34

The Nature of Dreams: on the threshold of other realities

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Issue 265

University of Winchester Although we are familiar with the dream state, there is a great deal to understand about the physiology, psychology and meaning of dreaming. For this conference we have brought together a team of experts who will consider various aspects of the topic. Chairs: Dr. Peter Fenwick, David Lorimer Speakers: Dr. Larry Dossey, Prof. Mark Blagrove, Prof. Charles Laughlin, Paul Devereux, Dr. Cedrus Monte, Dr. Morton Schatzman

For further information please contact the office on 01608 652 000 or email info@scimednet.org

www.scimednet.org Scientific and Medical Network

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Natural Life Coaching with Gill Coombs ❀ Gain a deeper understanding of your ‘natural self’ ❀ Develop a vision of a more natural life ❀ Work creatively towards your chosen future ❀ Live a life more congruent with your values Diploma in Professional Coach-Mentoring (Distinction) 01249 730472 • www.gillcoombs.co.uk/natural-life.php

‘Through becoming more fully our natural selves there is abundant potential for joy, creativity and wellbeing’ “It amazes me that every issue has something that I've been thinking about.”

“Reading Juno feels like having a conversation with a good friend.”

“This magazine is such a breath of fresh air and full of genuinely thought provoking articles.”

Juno is a parenting magazine with an ethos based on conscious parenting, sustainability, social justice, non-violence and a commitment to personal growth and spiritual awareness.

Subscribe online or by post 1 Year Subscription only £15 Tel: 01454 838 667 subscriptions@junomagazine.com www.junomagazine.com Juno Magazine, Elms Farm, Upper Tockington Road, Tockington, Bristol BS32 4LQ, UK

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March/April 2011


www.permaculture.co.uk Permaculture features stories from people who are creating a more sustainable, life-enhancing human society. Their inspiring solutions show you how to grow organic food, eco-build & renovate and how to live an environmentally friendly life. It is full of news, reviews, courses, contacts & clever ideas for you and your family. Permaculture is published quarterly in full colour, 80 pages. Subscribe for just: ÂŁ12.95 (UK 1 year) Write to: Permaculture Magazine Res, The Sustainability Centre, East Meon, Hampshire GU32 1HR Telephone: 01730 823 311 Email: info@permaculture.co.uk

Earth Care / People Care / Fair Shares

Permaculture Magazine display ads 2011 This PDF layout is CMYK 300dpi If you require an ad in another format i.e. tiff, please contact Tony Rollinson, tel: 01730 823 311 or email: tony@permaculture.co.uk.

Issue 265

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Schumacher College

Celebrating 20 years at Schumacher College Resurgence readers may be aware that 2011 marks the 20th anniversary of Schumacher College. It is also the centenary of the birth of E.F. Schumacher whose work was inspirational in the founding of the College. Thank you for being part of creating these first amazing 20 years. During this special year we will be running courses with many names familiar to you including David Orr, Vandana Shiva, Iain McGilchrist and Satish Kumar. We will be launching a Masters degree in Economics for Transition, another first of its kind alongside our Masters in Holistic Science. We are expanding our programmes in sustainable horticulture, land use and ecological design and build. Alongside these plans is the development of an Open Learning platform. We want to reach as many people as possible with thoughtful practice that will truly help with the global transformation needed at this critical time.

Gustavo Esteva teaching course participants at Schumacher College

Transformative Learning for Sustainable Living

If you are excited by the work of Schumacher College and feel able to make a donation at this time, you can read more about this campaign and all our activities at www.schumachercollege.org.uk

For twenty years Schumacher College has supported transformative learning for sustainable living. But now we need your support. The College urgently needs to raise around ÂŁ250,000 in 2011, in addition to the generous support of The Dartington Hall Trust. These funds are vital to the future of our programmes and to help us reach those who can make a difference around the world.

For further information please contact us: +44(0)1803 865 934 admin@schumachercollege.org.uk The Old Postern, Dartington, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EA, UK.

www.schumachercollege.org.uk Schumacher College is a department of The Dartington Hall Trust a registered charity.

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March/April 2011


Hands-on breadmaking courses that explain why bread matters and teach you how to make the real thing...

It’s time to take bread into your own hands

Rediscover the ancient power of group chant The Healing Voice Magical Voice Techniques • Mantra & Sonic

Meditations the • Mongolian Overtone Chanting Rediscover ancient power of group chant Magical Voice Techniques • Mantra & Sonic

Inner Sound Inner Sound&&Voice VoiceWeekends WeekendsLondon London Meditations • Mongolian Overtone Chanting March 26 - 27• • Mar May27–28 21 - 22•• May June22–23 11 - 12 Feb 20–21

Book a course · buy the book · support the cause

www.breadmatters.com

Macbiehill Farmhouse, Lamancha, West Linton, Peeblesshire EH46 7AZ

A LTERNATIVES

Jill Purce JillHealing Purce Voice The Inner & Voice Weekends London Ritual&Sound &Resonance Resonance Healing theFamily Family Apr 14–15 Ritual Healing the Feb920–21 • Mar 27–28 April - 10 • October 15 - 16• May 22–23 Week Intensives - residential near Glastonbury Week intensive – Residential near Glastonbury Healing Voice Apr 30– May 7the (Beltane) Ritual & Resonance Healing Family Apr 14–15 Healing 29 - May 6th HealingVoice FamilyApril & Ancestors Jun(Beltane) 18–25 (Solstice) Week Intensives - residential near Glastonbury Healing Voice Apr 30– May •7T:(Beltane) www.healingvoice.com 020 7435 2467 Healing Family & Ancestors Jun 18–25 (Solstice)

www.healingvoice.com • T: 020 7435 2467

St James’s Piccadilly / London

Events to inspire your heart, mind and soul

CAROLINE MYSS Healing Beyond Reason Saturday 26 March Renowned medical intuitive and mystic

Re-connecting and

D e e p e n i n g: Practices for

DEEPAK CHOPRA Self Power Saturday 7 May Global authority on spirituality and personal empowerment

Sustainable Leadership April 1-3, 2011 at EarthSpirit Centre, Somerset

www.bethechangeinitiative.org/leadership training@bethechangeinitiative.org / 07970 069 256

DONNA EDEN Energy Medicine Sunday 5 June Pioneer of energy medicine

Book now at www.alternatives.org.uk Issue 265

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How can we justify producing so much material that takes seconds to make, is used only once, and yet will most likely remain in the environment for thousands of years? Plastic pollution in the marine environment is now recognised as one of the most serious environmental and human health issues facing us today. We use and discard such huge quantities of these synthetic materials that vast areas of our oceans now contain more plastic than plankton.

Our Research Partners:

Calling all leaders from science, industry, government, NGO’s and media to come together to share knowledge, collaborate, and help identify practical and immediate solutions to reduce the amount of plastic in the marine environment.

1st Global Industry Conference Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, Los Angeles, California, USA June 1–2, 2011

READER OFFER: Register attendance at http://live.stopoceanplastics.org 10% Discount on delegate passes to all Resurgence Readers!

Code: RESURGE10

Science & Technology against Ocean Plastics

Join the STOP global community, learn about the issues, and have your say at stopoceanplastics.org

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at the heart of earth, art and spirit

Resurgence encourages inspiration for a more beautiful world where soil, soul and society are in harmony with each other EDITORIAL OFFICE

ADVERTISING

TRUSTEES

Editor-in-Chief Satish Kumar PA to Satish Kumar Elaine Green

Advertising Manager Gwydion Batten Advertising Sales Andrea Thomas Tel: + 44 (0)20 8771 9650 andrea@resurgence.org

Chair James Sainsbury Sandy Brown, Rebecca Hossack, Nick Robins, Thomas Wolf

Editor Susan Clark Art Director Rachel Marsh Deputy Editor Elizabeth Wainwright Website Editor Angie Burke Editor-at-Large Harry Eyres Contributing Editor Lorna Howarth Film Editor Caspar Walsh Sub-editor Helen Banks Art Adviser Sandy Brown Poetry Editor Peter Abbs Trust Manager Ian Tennant Events Manager Peter Lang Tel: + 44 (0) 20 8809 2391 peterlang@resurgence.org Office Manager Lynn Batten info@resurgence.org

Ford House, Hartland, Bideford, Devon EX39 6EE, UK Tel: + 44 (0) 1237 441293 Fax: + 44 (0) 1237 441203 The Resurgence Trust is a registered educational charity (no. 1120414).

MEMBERSHIP Membership Office Jeanette Gill, Rocksea Farmhouse, St Mabyn, Bodmin, Cornwall PL30 3BR, UK Tel: + 44 (0) 1208 841824 Fax: + 44 (0) 1208 841256 members@resurgence.org Membership Rates One year: UK: £30 Non-UK airmail: £40 Non-UK surface mail: £35

OVERSEAS MEMBERSHIP USA Walt Blackford, P O Box 312, Langley, WA 98260 U.S.A. Airmail: US$65, Surface: US$56 Australia Sustainable Living Tasmania, Level 1, 71 Murray Street, Hobart, 7000, Australia Tel: +61 (0)3 6234 5566 info@sustainablelivingtasmania.org.au The Ethos Foundation, 37 Bibaringa Close, Beechmont, Qld 4211, Australia Tel: +61 (0)7 5533 3646 info@ethosfoundation.org Airmail: A$70, Surface: A$62

ASSOCIATE EDITORS Herbert Girardet, Hazel Henderson, David Kingsley, June Mitchell, Sophie Poklewski Koziell, Jonathan Robinson, Andrew Simms, Martin Wright

ADVISORY PANEL Ramesh Agrawal, Rosie Boycott, Ros Coward, Oliver James, Annie Lennox, Philip Marsden, Geoff Mulgan, Jonathon Porritt, Gordon Roddick, Sam Roddick, William Sieghart

DISTRIBUTORS USA Kent News Company 100511 Airport Road Scottsbluff, NE 69361 Tel: +1 308 635 2225 rmckinney@kentnews.com UK Jeanette Gill, Rocksea Farmhouse, St Mabyn, Bodmin, Cornwall PL30 3BR, UK Tel: + 44 (0) 1208 841824 Fax: + 44 (0) 1208 841256 members@resurgence.org

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March/April 2011