Tuesday 4 October 2011

Poppies, Palms and Planetary Survival

Looking through the second year of posts on This Low Carbon Life, I kept stopping to read them. Beginning with all of last year's Retro-blog pieces! When I got to Helen's car breaking down in the woods last Hallowe'en, I laughed out loud very loudly - it had taken me more than an hour just to get to November. That brought me back to the task at hand. Finding ONE post from 350 to choose as my favourite of the year.

Almost impossible. So many intelligent, deep, immediate, funny, moving and informed pieces. With such a diversity of voices. I even enjoyed some of my own posts! I had no idea when I first got involved with Transition that the shift to a low-carbon life would be so creatively engaging.

Or that proofreading this blog daily for spelling, text and picture alignment would be such a predominantly enjoyable activity. I say predominantly because grumpiness can occur, for example when I've aligned something and blogger won't save it or great gaps appear between paragraphs (which sometimes happens with certain browsers) even though I've corrected it FOUR THOUSAND times in the last hour!).

Reconnection with Nature, read planetary living systems, remains not only a principle focus for me, but is also the most frequently used label on the posts of This Low Carbon Life. With that in mind, the three pieces I've chosen for this year are:

Charlotte's Poppyland and Elena's Palm Oil, which both look at the human interaction with the natural world, albeit in very different ways - see what I mean about diversity?

And John's Survival - A Planetary Healers Manual from this Summer's bookweek, reprinted below. Love it!

Photo: Different Times - Me, Car, Arizona, 2001

Survival - a Planetary Healers Manual

John Heaser
27 August 2011

Can reading a book change someone’s life? Who knows what course my life may have taken had I not bought a very strange book back in 1976. I had a pretty conventional time at University – by the standards of the 1970s – and enjoyed myself at the taxpayer’s expense in rural Devon. That was followed by an equally conventional life of work in London in the early days of IT – yes computers really were the size of buses then. So I have no idea what made me spend quite a lot of money on ‘Survival into the 21st Century, Planetary Healers Manual ‘ by Viktoras Kulvinskas – maybe it was the pretty cover!

I read the book on the tube (no Ipods in those days) and people peered over my shoulder at the exotic (and some erotic) illustrations. The contents were a complete revelation to me – in the dark ages before the internet people were much less likely to be exposed to ideas and thoughts from outside their immediate circle of friends.

My partner at the time took one look at the book and exclaimed with dread “you’re going to become a vegetarian!!” – well she was not quite correct but I certainly ate a lot less meat and to her credit she took on board a lot of the messages from the book once she got over the initial shock.

‘Viktoras’ – as we called the book for short – led me to join Friends of the Earth, take up Yoga and WOOFing and ultimately to move to the country to grow my own food and now to Transition. I don’t claim that this book will have that effect on everyone – it was very much a product of its time – but if it inspires some people the way it did me, then so much the better. Unfortunately I leant my copy to someone in 1978 and I’m still waiting for it to be returned – so I’ll have to refer people to the library if they want to read it.

So what did Viktoras write in this magic book? From what I remember it was a compendium of ideas for healthy eating, sustainable living and just about every weird idea that was new and crazy in the 70s. One fact that I have tucked away for use in a time of word turmoil is that one can derive much more nutrition by sprouting grain than by baking it as flour. So you will know things are really bad when I dig up the remaining lawn to grow seeds for sprouting!

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