Friday, 14 October 2011


You know the feeling you get when something is wrong, but you can't quite put your finger on it, or maybe you think you know but you can't quite articulate it well enough, or maybe what you think scares you because of the enormity of the consequences of your acceptance of a problem or situation? 

Maybe, just maybe, I've found a book which will help me to accept, contextualise and articulate my thoughts and words on something that is on my mind - Derrick Jensen's Endgame : Volume 1, The Problem of Civilisation.

So what is on my mind? I'm interested, very interested, in environmental issues. Specifically, there's the issue that most 'developed' and indeed 'developing' countries are fixated on continued and probably endless economic growth in a world where there are finite, and in many cases, dwindling, resources.

Nobody, especially our puppet leaders, seem able to mention the unthinkable - that endless growth cannot possibly continue, and that the environmental damage we're doing to the planet - our home - is so immense and that most western civilisations are able to 'outsource' the worst, lowest paid jobs, and much of the destruction and degradation to 'less important', less visible and less vocal parts of the world.

Endgame essentially says that the problem is that 'civilisation' cannot be sustainable and never has been, and goes on to explain this and other related matters in great detail. If you accept what the book is about, and in all honesty, I would defy most rationally minded people not to, then some very deep and awkward questions sit in your mind.

I'll be exploring some of these in due course, but suffice to say, this book is a game changer, if not a life changer for me. Where do you go from here?

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Alone in a Crowded Room

Yesterday evening, we were invited to a 50th birthday party for a friend of my wife. There were 104 people there and I'm sure they are all lovely, but I could not connect at all.

The place had no soul, the people were loud, the music was louder (and was more suited to a 21st birthday). It was everything I am not. Am I just getting grumpy as I get older, maybe less tolerant, or is there something else?

I felt lost and alone in a crowded room.

I felt angry with myself for wasting my time and my life by being here, but on the other hand I felt I should be respectful and thankful that I had been invited.

Fortunately, my wife felt the same as I did, and so after a couple of hours and with a plausible excuse, we said our thanks and goodbyes and left.

What I am and what I want is becoming clearer. My purpose, my direction, my goals, my path are slowly materialising before me. But the transition itself will still be hard - just because you know the direction you should be going in, doesn't making turning around easier.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Hidden communities - the Hutters of Carbeth

Please read the update at the end :-)

Because the British Isles is a relatively small place and over developed (from the point of view of buildings, both commercial and domestic), you don't expect that there are many 'hidden' communities. Those out there are often fighting with the authorities or land-owners for survival. One such place is called 'Carbeth' in Scotland and it was originally set up in 1920, but really came into its own just after the WW2 when it became an 'escape' for some of the people of war-torn Glasgow and Clydebank.

A few years ago, the 'hutters' of Carbeth were being threatened with ridiculous rent rises from the landlord (in Scotland, the vast majority of land is owned by a very small number of wealthy estates) who, it became clear, intended to keep increasing the rents until the people moved off. They were also threatened with violence if they resisted.

This short film gives a little background to the people, their buildings and the struggle, which has resulting in them forming an association with the intention of buying the land to preserve their future.

Whilst some of the huts are very 'Heath Robinson' each is beautiful in its own way! The setting looks fantastic - what a wonderful place to live!

More information:

Reforesting Scotland:

In 2013, the community of hutters at Carbeth managed to purchase the land through protracted negotiations with the land owner - their future is now secure!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

What would it take for you to act?

One of the issues that I'm exploring and reading about currently, is what would someone do when presented with a fact or concept that they totally accepted, but in doing so, it then exposes a hypocrasy within their current way of life? In other words, what is a person's 'tipping point'?

In a previous article, I included a video showing Julia Butterfly Hill talking about Disposability Consciousness, and since then, I've discovered that for 738 days between December 10, 1997 and December 18, 1999, Julia Butterfly Hill lived in the canopy of an ancient redwood tree, called Luna, to help make the world aware of the plight of ancient forests and deforestation.

Luna was over 1,000 years old and 200 ft tall. “When I entered the majestic cathedral of the redwood forest for the first time, my spirit knew it had found what it was searching for. I dropped to my knees and began to cry because I was so overwhelmed by the wisdom, energy and spirituality housed in this holiest of temples.”

Clearly, she had reached her own personal tipping point and felt compelled to act.

Birch Shrink Pots

I love natural crafts, although I'm painfully aware that I need to 'practice what I preach' and actually do some myself!

These Birch Shrink Pots shown above are made by the well known wooden bowl turner revivalist, Robin Wood. With a lid, they look like they'd make an incredibly beautiful herb storage container!

They're made by taking a smallish 'green' birch log and hollowing out the centre and then carving a rim on the inside towards the bottom. A pre-shrunk disc of wood is inserted into the rim in the base and as the pot naturally shrinks, it grips and seals the base - ingenious!

Robin Wood made this 'Porringer' (below) which I've already featured and is, in my eyes, a work of art in itself.

Robin runs courses on spoon carving etc: Carving Courses


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