Positive Feedback Positive Action
31 Mar 2008
News from readers who are making positive changes in their lives.
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Jethro Buck tells us about his personal experiences building his unique cob house. He outlines his hopes for a lifestyle that is both in tune with nature and more sustainable.
“I have built this cob house entirely out of local and reclaimed materials. The stones for the footings came from the next door field cleared several years ago when we started a vegetable box scheme in North Aston. The cob for the walls came from the actual site. The poplar roof rafters from a vegetable patch screen planted eight years ago and the thatched straw was grown on the farm and cut by scythe and threshed by hand. The threshed wheat I will use for bread ( I will eat my roof!).
I want to live in the house the way I have built it– in an entirely place en-bedded manner. I will work on the village micro dairy for cheese, milk, butter and meat and on the box scheme for veg. I have built a clay bread oven in the wall of the house and have enough corn for a good few years. an old chestnut came down which should supply me with fuel and warmth for a good while. My water will come from a well which we uncovered on site. I will cook and heat my water on a wood stove and do my laundry on an old copper. My compost Dunny is circular and thatched with wattle and daub. The wattle made from cleft Hazel is coppiced from the stands that surround the house. It has a panoramic view over ‘Paradise Valley’ — this is the actual name! In deed a room with a view.
I want to live in such a simple way to prove to myself and others that such a lifestyle is perfectly possible, in fact extremely enjoyable. I am an artist and see my house as a land sculpture in which I am going to live and the process of living there as a piece of performance art. Each action from grinding corn on a hand mill to sleeping on a wool mattress ( sheep from the surrounding fields) will be my spiritual practise. If I am successful I hope others will join me. The landowner and I have envisaged a small cluster of similar such houses supporting the existing box scheme and future land based businesses bringing seasonal celebrations to the village a new version of the monastic way of life celebrating unity through nature and ecology; an ‘Ecostery’.
The farm already supplies meat, vegetables and milk to Oxford the near by town and many surrounding villages.
Apart from buying some extra thatch straw and a bit of natural clay paint the house has cost next to nothing. I feel the in the future that the transition movement will Need to make it possible for many to ‘re –ruralise’ and work the land. If we are prepared to go simple enough then this process is not beyond the means of anyone. When we harvested the wheat for the thatch some 20 of us were scything, tedding and sheathing. At the end of the day we gave thanks and drank cider, Jeremy the land owner led us in singing we plough the fields and scatter and Ambica and Gopal devotees of Babagee sang Indian bajans. That day was a macquett of things to come.
I intend to start living there at the end of May I will live for one year at first and hope to keep a journal, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.”
Back in Spring of 1997 Fiona Matthews asked the question: ‚ÄòIsnt it time we set up a way of finding new heroes for our children? Every day people who are working to save our Planet? Why dont we bring together the greatest thinkers, ecologist, and leveraged the Olympics? Were spending billions to shave a second off a run or half and inch off a jump. When are we going to start finding the heroes of our earth?‚Äù In essence to run a global quest to find Earth Champions people, organizations and governments and televise their achievements every four years from the host city of the summer Olympics. The quest would promote a simple yet powerful message: to save the world, we just need to take care of our own backyards. We can make a difference there.
Firstly Fiona met with James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank, who pledged funds for the quests facilitation in developing countries. So in 2000, Fiona established the Earth Champions Foundation and named the Earth Champions Quest as its primary initiative. Nelson Mandela presented the first Earth Champions Award in 2000 to 18-year-old Gina Litton, from Western Australia, who was credited with saving the last stand of jarrah forest.
Today, the Earth Champions Quest illustrates that human beings are capable of astonishing ingenuity, especially in times of crisis. The competition identifies local heroes making a difference in five categories ‚Ä’water, energy, biodiversity, transport and waste minimisation ‚Ä’ as nominated by the community. The knowledge acquired from this process meets two outcomes: all ideas and practices are posted online for people to access and implement in their own communities; and new patents can be presented to the business community for investment to assist in rapid uptake of new innovations.
Earth Champions is currently conducted in capital cities, a warm-up to what Mathews regards as what will be the main event: a Quest for Life in the spirit of an ecological Olympics.
The purpose of the Quest is to give hope to people, to find practical everyday answers to problems that affect their community. Young people especially are so concerned about their future that many do not bother to engage or who crave to find role models who they can aspire to be.
On the Foundations committee sits influential figures such as Sir Crispin Tickell, climate adviser to five British Prime Ministers, and renowned lateral thinker Dr Edward de Bono; and its partners include the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Announcing its collaboration, UNDPs Director for Europe, Odile Sorgho-Moulinier, said, ‚ÄúIn 10 months, this Earth Champions Foundation discovered more ecological solutions than UNDP has in 30 years. We are going to work with them.‚Äù
Fiona regards ecological decline as ‚Äúa call to action for the Human Family‚Äù.
‚ÄúBy inviting and inspiring people to notice and nominate what people are doing locally to improve their street or business, we can start enacting practical solutions on a local level. That is how we are going to stabilise the climate ‚Ä’ it will be the greening of the planet,‚Äù
We have to give people a voice she says, dismissing the perceived complexity of the situation: ‚ÄúUnderstanding nature is easier than understanding the rules of soccer. We just have to get the game out there.‚Äù (We have benchmarked the Quest against the UN Treaties which we simplified into normal language and had approved by the Chief of the UN Treaties).
Fiona explains that at the essence of her quest is a motto that her own mother lived by. She recounted that towards the end of her mums life she asked her ‚Äúwhy she was so loved by all my friends?‚Äù her mum replied, ‚ÄòDarling, its a simple principle. If you look for the best in people, they will feel it, and theyll want to show it to you. ‚ÄúWere saying, lets look for the best in all of us, because it is there. In fact, our lives will depend on it.‚Äù
Reflecting, as the Founder of the Earth Champions Quest, Fiona said: ‚Äúone of the most moving and inspiring moments in my life was when Nelson Mandela gave a young woman Gina Litton the first Earth Champion Award in Melbourne on the 8th September 2000 the week prior to the Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Gina was being acknowledged for her work in saving the last stand of ancient jarrah forest in Western Australia. This reminded me of the moment I decided to establish a way in which we can find the unsung everyday people who are working to heal their environment,
Another joyful moment was when there were 68 Earth Champions standing on the Olympic Museum
stage in Lausanne Switzerland. The unsung heroes of everyday life, from a toothless farmer, to the Commissioner for Energy of Lausanne City, to a physicist and a businessman were standing side by side and being sung to by the local choir who had composed a thank you song for their local heroes. All these people were nominated by their own community because someone had noticed the contribution they were making to improving their life and their environment.
One of the most amazing aspects of these people was that they are all amazingly happy, even though they were obviously working very hard pursing something that was difficult to achieve. The common thread that our teams in different communities had experienced was that they were greatly energized by interviewing these people about their work. Because of this feedback we decided to run a Happiness index through the program and indeed the scores were extraordinarily high.
All the interviewers were impressed and even overwhelmed by the dedication and passion of the people who all have been selected universally have indicated that they are very happy in their lives. It seems to be that perhaps working for something that is from a higher order to work for the saving of the planet has elevated their sense of aliveness and joy.
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