Sunday, 30 September 2012

Earth calling Lisa

Had someone told until recently that I could become excited about composting toilets I'd have told them to bog off (haha) but last month's permaculture festival at Angsbacka truly inspired me to consider self-sufficiency! Yes, really - the girl who, just a year ago, lived and worked in Canary Wharf, craves a basic lifestyle. I've had several failed attempts in the past at growing herbs and vegetables on my balcony and windowsills but I'm encouraged to try again now I've met people who survive on home-grown produce.

If it's possible to make a fully functioning loo out of a wooden box, a toilet seat and a bucket; to build a rocket stove in a matter of a few days, using an old oil drum, some clay, bricks and incorporating warm, outside seating; to grow our own food and to eat directly from the plants around us, even using some of them as simple toiletries (add a small branch of spruce tree to your bath to get rid of a cold, fragrance the water and moisturise your skin!) it sure makes me wonder why the majority of the Western world equates "success" with money, cars, property and clothes (and the associated misery of trying to obtain and maintain it all).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying a permaculture lifestyle doesn't come with struggles, of course it does, but the satisfaction and contentment of knowing you're minimising damage to Earth, and working with nature has to, in my eyes, sit way above the constant longing for fashion and fast cars.

I arrived in Angsbacka kind of by accident (I think it hears your needs and lures you without your knowledge) mid-July in time for the yoga festival, then came the raw life festival, then the tantra festival and then the last festival of the year, brought about by a merry band of permaculture enthusiasts - and, oh how they transformed the energy of the whole place!

They smiled, they sang, they planted, dug, built, danced, played and, everything they did they did with the kind of pure love, cheer and enthusiasm I've only ever seen displayed by my grandparents - true creativity with gratitude and contentment; completely present in every activity, with the confidence that they're working for the good of the planet; with nature instead of against her.

And, at the end of the closing ceremony, as we all stood together in a huge circle of over 200 smiling faces, each holding a flower from the Angsbacka garden, presented to us by the organisers, it occured to me that every person in the room shares a vision of how the world can look, if we step off the capitalist treadmill, consume less, and consider our lifestyles in relation to the overall effect on the planet.

As the GM of Angsbacka said at the closing ceremony, "It really feels like we're coming together to create a brand new world." I hope so.

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