From the heartlands

Stories will lead us back to the forest

Stories yet to be written. Credit @fiona_veritas

Credit: @fiona_veritas

It’s been another long intermission, but with a heave of the creaky ropes and a squeak of the pulleys I hereby open the curtains on a new act for Vivid.

Since last writing here, there has been a time of false dawns and illusory summits; of horizons that came pleasingly into view only to be lost again in cloud. Of conflicting goals and wavering beliefs. On the surface it was no more than another period of indecision about future directions, brought on by a relentless and uninvited flow of leads and possibilities, each a distraction from the previous, and each, when it came to serious analysis, of dubious compatibility with my skills, resources and leanings.

(more…)

Pink pants, red herrings and life’s work

(or: More than my job’s worth, part 2)

The snickett where the pants lay.

Some weeks ago I made a decision. Except that it wasn’t me that was making the decision, I thought, it was the pants. They had been lying there, in the path, for probably more than a year. It’s a muddy, narrow path between hedge and houses; the route to school that I walk with my son every morning. A dozen parents had casually side-stepped the pants a thousand times apiece, perhaps not noticing them, perhaps embarrassed; but surely all, like me, wondering secretly: whose were they? How had they fallen off? Were they missed? Surely someone should pick them up. Should I pick them up?

Yet month in, month out, they lay there, unloved and ignored, covered in turn by summer dust, autumn leaves and winter snowfalls, exposed after every wind or thaw to reveal an ever more crumpled, downtrodden repose, their pinkness struggling to be heard beneath the deepening coating of mud and algae.

The day I decided to pick them up would be the day my life would change, I thought. The pants had called me. And if you respond to the call, the pants are yours. (more…)

On belonging

As this placeless world spreads, and as progress is increasingly defined as the ability to look out of a hotel window in any city and see the same neon-lit corporate logos, the most radical thing to do is to belong. To belong to a place, a piece of land, a community – to know it and to be prepared to defend it.
Paul Kingsnorth, 2004

I’ve been wondering about belonging. What is it? Is it important? Where can we get some? How do we hold on to it?Home

A decade ago I returned with my young family to live in the area where I had enjoyed my happiest childhood days.

I refamiliarised myself with the landscape, the trees and plants and birds and rivers, in all their colour and variety. I took the plunge into community activism. I made and renewed good friends in the area. It is a welcoming and beautiful place to live; I feel lucky to be here and generally content.

Yet I’ve rarely enjoyed a deep feeling of belonging. In my gloomier moments I can feel adrift, struggling to find any point of reference. (more…)

Update: new blog showing my nerdy side

This is a short note to anyone interested in permaculture or sustainable food production (I know there’s at least one out there!) to flag up another blog I’ve started, documenting my permaculture journey. It won’t be of interest to everyone but if you like pretty pictures of lettuces and straw bale buildings it might be for you!

Find it at Slow Worm.

Meanderings on belonging will be the subject of my next Vivid article, in the pipeline now.

Civilisation hasn’t stopped trampling on tribes….

Perenco arrives in the Peruvian rainforestIf you’re of the mind that our civilisation is more civilised than past civilisations, you’re probably right — especially if you consider the full definition of civilised (which includes the tendency to exterminate, exploit, oppress, imprison or immiserate everything that isn’t) proposed in the post after this. Not convinced? (more…)

Thoughts from the heartlands (on wealth)

A young Weyeba boy on the island of Sumba in Indonesia watches the loggers cutting down the giant trees near his village and asks his web of tree lifegrandfather: why are they destroying what is valuable?

“Because to them, the trees are worth more dead than alive. You may ask: how can this be? The answer is that they do not understand the true meaning of wealth.

(more…)

Thoughts from the heartlands (on fences)

Sunset over a fence during Hurricane Katrina

An Aboriginal elder and his grandson meander through the maze of picket-fenced gardens in a comfortable suburb of Perth…

Grandfather, why do the white folk build fences and walls everywhere?

Grandson, this is a very important question and there are answers on many levels.

On the surface, the answer is simple: they are setting out their territory and defining the limits of their area of control. If you could look down from above you would see that the network of fences, walls and borders they have produced, enclosing areas within areas, territories within territories, typifies the landscape of the ‘civilized’ world. (more…)