aranya on February 28th, 2013

Having been introduced to this idea by two different people in the same week earlier this month, I thought I’d give it a go. Not much to say really, other than it’s easy to do and the pea shoots taste great. A no-brainer for winter flavour and nutrition. These few pictures tell the story:

Pea shoots close up

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aranya on May 20th, 2011

I just came across this video and felt compelled to share it. Three and three quarter minutes of amazing animation showing how numbers create all the beautiful things we see around us. Enjoy!

Just give five minutes to this inspiring talk by bioneer Paul Hawken:

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aranya on January 7th, 2011

I stumbled upon Colleen Stevenson’s beautiful illustrative take on the permaculture principles today and thought I’d like to share it.

The Principles of Living

The Principles of Living

Check out her website www.colleenstevensongraphics.com to see much more of her work.

Below is a short video where she talks about what some of these principles mean to her. Enjoy & be nourished.

aranya on December 13th, 2010
Britain snowed in...

Snowed in Britain...

The recent snow affected most of us in one way or another. Interestingly, I was running a Permaculture Diploma tutor training event on the outskirts of London when much of it fell. I thought the possibility of being snowed in inside the M25 rather ironic, given how much I avoid going there. Mind you, who better to be stranded with than a lovely bunch of permaculture designers? As it happened we all managed to get home that day, though for some of us it was a long journey.

Such episodes highlight once more the vulnerability of our current system’s dependency upon moving so much food around on a ‘just in time’ basis. It’s encouraging then, that an exciting new project showing one way to improve food security in cities just celebrated its first birthday.

‘Food from the Sky’ is a pioneering food growing and educational project in Crouch End, North London. Food is grown organically on the rooftop of Budgens supermarket there & sold in the store just 8 metres below. Now that’s local food ~ grown within walking distance! Read the rest of this entry »

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aranya on March 13th, 2010

This short but interesting video is at first just funny, but then makes an important point about how quickly movements can gather pace. Important when we are feeling like we are still that lone voice in the wilderness! I’ve been reading about systems theory this week (how systems behave, sometimes in unexpected ways) and this is a fine example of a reinforcing feedback loop. The more that joins the movement, quicker the change occurs. Stay with it, you’ll be amazed at how quickly it all happens at the end. Just substitute the dancing for ‘global environmental sanity’…

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aranya on February 1st, 2010

Janine Benyus introduces the science of Biomimicry; using nature as our inspiration for creating new technologies. This gives me so much hope for our collective future and fits so beautifully into the permaculture vision.

Spend the next 18 minutes regaining some hope…

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aranya on January 28th, 2010

A strange but interesting short video for all economists (and the rest of us participating) to ponder…

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aranya on January 26th, 2010

The much awaited follow up to Geoff Lawton’s inspirational five minute flash video posted on You Tube a few years ago…

Greening the Desert II: Greening the Middle East from Craig Mackintosh on Vimeo.

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aranya on January 10th, 2010
The 'Coventry velodrome'

The 'Coventry velodrome'

A friend reminded me this morning of the one humourous book in my otherwise serious permaculture library. It’s the one book I refer course students to when they feel at a point of information overload, to give their minds a bit of a break. It is of course, ‘Crap Cycle Lanes’.

If you believe that our local authorities are spending our money wisely, then a quick flick through this book will convince you otherwise.

The ‘Coventry velodrome’ (shown here) is just one of a whole series of magnificent examples of pointless activity. It left me wondering whether there was some kind of legislation forcing councils to create a certain number of cycle lanes, but of unspecified length. Why else would so many pointless short stretches like this be popping up all over the place? Did someone actually think that examples such as this would make it safer for both cyclists and pedestrians?

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aranya on January 6th, 2010

If you’re already aware of the excellent short film ‘The Story of Stuff’, you’ll be pleased to hear that Annie Leonard and her team are back with an important message about the Copenhagen agenda…

If you missed ‘The Story of Stuff’ the first time around, you can still see it here.

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aranya on January 5th, 2010

Perhaps only one piece of the puzzle, but still nice to see Stephen Fry adding his voice to a nice little video by WeForest… And mentioning the word ‘permaculture’!

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aranya on December 24th, 2009
Disappointment

Inevitable disappointment

It was perhaps inevitable that our so-called ‘World leaders’ would disappoint us in Copenhagen. Are any of us really surprised? The influence of big business is far too great for our politicians to lead us any more. No, we are the ones this time who are going to have to come to the rescue.

Yes, politicians can make decisions which have far reaching effects in a short time, but let’s face it, it could be a long time before they make them.

We don’t have time to wait!

We however, are always in a position to make different choices. Yes, let our voices be heard, but let’s not waste valuable time banging our heads against the proverbial brick wall, when we could be spending that time making positive changes in our own lives now.

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aranya on November 11th, 2009
Life can be enjoyed right to the very end...

Life can be enjoyed right to the last drop...

Having just put another couple of logs on the fire on this chilly night, I am once again reminded of our total reliance upon winter warmth. As I mentioned before, we’ve developed an adapted hibernation strategy to get us through the cold months, but our dependency on fossil fuels of late has made us very vulnerable.

I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy though, & like most permaculture advocates, see a lot of opportunities in this situation for positive change & creative solutions. Permaculture was originally developed in response to the oil crisis of the 1970′s – looking at solutions that didn’t rely upon the availability of such easy energy. Since then our whole way of life has become more & more dependent upon the supply of oil & we are more vulnerable than ever to a reduction in its availability. Just think of all the things that we now take for granted & that rely upon oil in some form or another for its production or transportation.

Permaculture was always about looking beyond oil & as time goes on its solutions become more & more relevant to our lives.

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aranya on September 24th, 2009
Life opposes entropy...

Life opposes entropy...

Entropy is commonly defined as;

‘A measure of disorder or randomness.
A closed system evolves toward a state of maximum entropy.’

As a physics undergraduate student, this never made sense to me. If things are only able to proceed to a greater and greater state of disorder, where did the order we see come from in the first place? This paradox could only ultimately be answered by bringing in an additional factor not mentioned above; one that acts in opposition to entropy. I later realised that factor is life.

Yes, we do indeed see plenty of examples of entropy around us. ‘Inanimate’ objects do fall apart; we see mountains being eroded by the forces of wind and water, rocks being broken into smaller and smaller pieces, cars rusting and so on, but is that such a bad thing?

Or are we just so afraid of change, that the very idea of entropy scares us? Just look at the things we make; plastics are a great example of something we made to last forever and then we realised what a bad idea that was. When we’d finished with them, they just wouldn’t ‘go away’. They just sat there performing no useful purpose, locking up important raw materials and preventing nature from making something new from them. Read the rest of this entry »

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aranya on August 9th, 2009
Reed beds are very efficient and produce an additional yield

Reed beds are very efficient and provide additional yields of biomass

So having looked at the functionality of different patterns, how might we go about using this knowledge to design truly sustainable ways of living? Well, looking at both excellent and poor examples of pattern application should help illustrate the idea.

In wastewater treatment systems, we have long used beds of gravel to help clean up our sewage. Collectively, the many particles of gravel have a lot of surface area on which the active bacteria live.  This is an application of the successful ‘lobe’ pattern, which we find being applied in our colon, where the collective surface area of the ‘friendly’ bacteria makes digestion most efficient.

An adaptation of this system involves planting in addition, some heavy feeding plants into the gravel beds. These plants take up the fertile wastes of the bacteria and turn it into plant matter (or biomass). This can then be cut and made use of in any number of ways, including use as fuel or a mulch. The combination of gravel and reeds for instance, makes for a very efficient system. Read the rest of this entry »

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aranya on July 12th, 2009
Aaaahhhh.....

Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhh.....

Patterns abound in nature, and yes we often see beauty in those places, but our ability to recognise patterns is actually vital to our survival. Imagine if you will… What if we couldn’t recognise the pattern of say, a particular face or fruit and associate it with safety / nurturing or indeed the opposite? Wouldn’t life be so much more time consuming (and dangerous)?

So our brains are already ‘hard-wired’ to recognise patterns. It is such a powerful process, that it can even elicit an emotional response (to for instance, a fluffy toy in the pattern of a baby penguin).

OK, so other than these obvious survival issues, why is understanding patterns important to me?

Well, given that we’ve been making a bit of a mess of things of late, we might be advised to consider some different ways of doing things. Like how we grow our food for instance. Or how we use energy. Quite frankly, how we might go about being sustainable! Read the rest of this entry »

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aranya on June 7th, 2009
Money doesn't grow on trees, but some food does!

Money doesnt grow on trees, but sometimes food does!

The daily choices that we make have either a positive or a negative effect upon our environment & believe me, those choices are significant. Have you ever considered how much of your income (& time) that you spend each week on just obtaining food? Now multiply this up for a whole year. Then multiply that by the number of people in our country alone. It’s a big number isn’t it?

So, where do you currently choose to spend that money (at the supermarket or from local producers & family businesses)? How do you spend that time (travelling back & forth from the shops & queueing at checkouts or growing your own in your garden)? These are choices that we can decide to change in any moment. We can decide to do that now. Every little thing that we change for the better makes a difference & is always worth doing. Is it clear now that we are not as powerless as we have all been led to believe?

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aranya on May 10th, 2009
OK, so there is still a bend, but a lot less than before...

OK, so there is still a bit of a bend...

If I were to ask you the question:

“What is the quickest way to get from A to B?”

A .                      . B

What would you answer?

The most common response is of course “a straight line” and we humans have got quite obsessed with them. But where (else) in nature do we find them? Which others species uses vast amounts of energy to carve a massive slice out of a hill to level a road, destroying important habitats in the process, just to save a minute or so of journey time?

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aranya on April 15th, 2009
Our clutter...
Our clutter…

It’s traditionally the time of year again to give our homes a good ‘Spring clean’. I guess back in ‘the old days’, warmth was too precious to be opening doors until it was warm enough outside, so a smelly winter indoors was probably inevitable! Vacuum cleaners have of course removed the excuse for us to leave cleaning things that long, but affluence has brought with it a different problem. Clutter!

It seems to be the in-thing nowadays to have people come in and get rid of your clutter for you. Many of us have big emotional resistance to this, but we know on some level that it makes sense. Paying someone else to do it for you seems a big drastic to me (and scary!), but if, like me you’re looking for one more good reason to get on and have a good clear out yourself, then read on…

The millstone around the neck is a powerful metaphor for life’s responsibilities, but in a society that values the ownership of material goods, it can be difficult for us to recognise the ways in which our ‘stuff’ burdens us too. What we need is a clear sense of the time, energy and space it takes to keep something in our possession, but first let’s look at how nature does things.

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