Archive for the ‘Communications’ Category

Well-being and the Community – a local perspective

What makes up community well-being in a time of financial constraints and climate uncertainty? This was the question twenty five people turned up to explore at Sustainable Bungay‘s first Green Drinks of the new year at the Green Dragon in January. The evening also marked the start of our new Arts, Culture and Well-being sub-group.

Plants for Life Weeds Walk April 2012Well-being has been the subject of several recent studies, such as the New Economics Forum’s ‘Five Ways to Well-being‘, as well as the focus for many Transition initiatives. We live in a culture based around a market economy, and money and material status (or the lack of it), have become the driving force of most people’s lives.

But what real good has this done ourselves or the planet? Apart from living in a badly degraded environment, we are as a collective suffering from ill health, depression, loss of identity and lack of connection to nature and other people. And it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

For many people (including myself) this winter has felt particularly long, dark and cold, with uncharacteristic feelings of gloom and lowness. When I’ve spoken to people about it, many have said “Oh, it’s not just me then.” Then there are those colds and fevers which seem to take weeks to clear up. Something is clearly not okay.

What would it mean if our lives, instead of being determined by GDP, were based on our mutual well-being and happiness – not just our personal well-being, but within the communities and neighbourhoods we all share? What would it mean if instead of striving for our own comfort and security, we valued sharing our resources and knowledge? How would our attitudes to each other change, and what kind of changes in the environment would that bring?

Hot Beds & leafy Greens posterMuch of the work Sustainable Bungay has been doing over the last five years has this co-operative learning at its base – from creating the Community Garden at the Library to hosting Happy Monday meals at the Community Centre, to organising bicycle rides, sewing circles, Give and Take Days, Bungay Community Bees and the Pig Club. Several of us attended the recent East Anglian Living Together day about co-ops and intentional communities in East Bergholt, where we found we had over 30 practical skills between us – just in one workshop! As well as sharing these skills, we’ve learned that working together brings a certain kind of happiness you just can’t pay for.

For example, you can go and forage for blackberries on the common on your own, but going out together, sharing a picnic and then taking some to the Abundance table or for a Happy Mondays pudding for others to enjoy, makes for a more open and shared experience. This simple activity has all those five ways in it: connection, action, learning, taking notice and giving. Most of all it involves the place we live in and includes the wild spaces we are surrounded by.

At our Green Drinks we have focused on the many ways we can reconnect, from learning about medicine plants to the restoration of the River Waveney. In January the ideas were flowing, as people paired up and asked each other what community well-being meant to them and what creative or practical skills they had they would like to pass on to others.

kORU FITNESS SESSION POSTERA common thread emerged: well-being meant belonging to a place and not feeling on your own. So plans for a wide range of communal activities were mapped out, from walking and exploring the local countryside, river swimming and canoeing, to sharing skills such as food growing, cooking and meditation. Creative workshops were designed, including storytelling, theatre work and body percussion. What also became clear was that well-being is a major factor underlying and motivating Sustainable Bungay’s activities.

Giving ourselves more time and space to connect with people and the neighbourhood was something people thought was vital and in April we’ll begin creating a well-being map of Bungay with a walk around town paying particular attention to what the various public spaces in town feel like to be in.

Sustainable Bungay is a busy group. We have always been primarily events-focused and that seems set to continue. But a closer look shows that these events  also often provide the space for people to come together for discussions that might not happen ordinarily.

For our seventh Give and Take Day last Saturday (16th March). Charlotte set up and facilitated a conversation on the Gift Economy – sharing what we have with others in times of austerity. Over twenty people joined in. Nick spoke about some of the ideas in Charles Eisenstein’s Sacred Economics and Jeppe and Vanessa talked about their involvement in setting up the Common Room in Norwich. This project makes unused or underused public spaces (in this case an old church) available as a ‘living room for the community’, where people can swap and share skills, knowledge and company with no money exchange involved.

Gift Economy discussion at Give and Take DayWhat was striking about this discussion on a cold, dark, Saturday midday in March in Bungay’s (slightly dilapidated) Community Centre, surrounded by the Give and Take tables of household goods, clothes and books, and accompanied by a bowl of Josiah’s homemade fava bean and winter root veg soup and Christine’s freshly baked bread, was that when time was called after 50 minutes, no one was in any hurry to leave. People were still discussing everything from how to receive a gift and should that leave you feeling obliged to give something back in some way, to how to begin to value ourselves and other people, places, skills and the living planet in a way that is not market-driven or utilitarian.

Usually when we think of well-being, it’s in terms of personal comfort, and often has medical associations. But what if well-being were really not just a personal matter? What if it also depends on our getting out of our personal enclosures and insistence on everything belonging to some private personal sphere? And into that ‘living room for the community‘ where a conversation can happen about sharing what we have, and we can start to forge different relationships with each other, the places we live in and the planet that gives us life.

“I’ve never experienced such a discussion before,” said one visitor. “I could have stayed much longer.”

Images: Plants for Life 2012 weed walk, Bungay(MW); Hot Beds and Leafy Greens poster, March 2013 by Lesley Hartley; Koru body percussion poster, March 2013 by Jon Halls; Gift Economy conversation at SB’s 7th Give and Take Day, March 2013 (MW); Video of the Common Room, Norwich, February 2013, by Kevin Hunn

Advertisements

Keep Circulating in the Common Room or What Rosemary Did

I had planned on giving a pre-spring tonic Herbs for Resilience class at the second Common Room prototype day at St. Laurence’s church in Norwich on Saturday. I was going to focus on plants like dandelion, cleavers and nettles to wake up our systems after winter.

Only it really wasn’t ‘after winter’ on Saturday. It was after a week where the temperature never rose much above freezing and I’d had too many conversations with people who said they’d been feeling gloomy and low (including, unusually, myself) or who had had flus and colds that were taking an age to clear up – or both!

So on Friday I decided that the spring tonic was just going to have to wait. What we needed right now was something cheerful and warming for the End of Winter. Something that would clear our heads, lift our spirits and also keep us warm in the nippy air of St. Laurence’s church!

Welcome to Rosemary! Known since forever as a herb that warms, stimulates circulation, helps clear the head and improve memory AND cheers the heart, it had to be you, bold, resinous Rosemary!

I picked some sprigs from the garden, packed up my teapot, and took some dried thyme and lavender to add to the mix along with some Norfolk honey. The class would be based around a cup of tea.

Then on Saturday morning I sat down at home with a hot water bottle to tune in to the day and the class. The temperature was almost as low inside the house as out and I suddenly noticed my kidneys and hands were really cold. I placed the hot water bottle on my back to warm up my kidneys and carried on considering the class. Five minutes later I noticed not only was my back now warm, but so were my hands! Warming up my back and kidneys had warmed up my hands too. As my system was not just focused on keeping my organs warm, the blood was circulating further out to the extremities.

“THIS,” I thought, “is what I want to pass on to everyone at the Trade School today.” Keep your internal organs warm with a hot water bottle. And make a pot of rosemary, thyme and lavender tea with a small amount of honey to help clear those old colds and cheer the spirits!

05_640

Ten people turned up for a lively class and in the way of skill and knowledge share and Common Room and Trade School, I was rewarded with friendly people and some lovely gift exchanges: a pair of hand-knitted fingerless gloves, a diary, organic fruit and veg and a jar of homemade Seville orange marmalade, all of which are already being loved, worn (fingerless gloves on as I type!), written in, cooked and eaten!

So thanks to everyone for those and for joining in so heartily. And also for sharing your own knowledge about the virtues of Rosemary, which is also an antiseptic:

“When my brother was a teenager, he had terribly smelly feet,” said Sarah. “Our grandmother told him to bathe them every day in cooled rosemary tea. And that soon sorted it out!”

Notes:

(i) For more on The Common Room in Norwich check out the website. There were all sorts of interesting and co-operative/collaborative classes, talks and demonstrations going on on Saturday, besides mine: from creative action for trees and grassroots media to origami and creating complementary currencies. The whole day had a great atmosphere with many people joining in in spite of the cold. And you can see some photos from the day, too!

(ii) I teach people in groups and communities to reconnect with the living world by taking notice of the plants growing right where we are and how that helps increase well-being. Here is some of what I’ve been doing recently:

Common Plants, Common Room

The Plants for Life 2012 Archive (a monthly series of talks, walks and workshops I organised last year with Sustainable Bungay)

Mark in Flowers 2014

I look forward to doing more Trade School barter sessions at the Common Room! And if you’d like me to come and give a  plant talk (always interactive and practical), or lead a walk or workshop with your group, do let me know: markintransition@hotmail.co.uk

For the latest updates on meetings and events, check the website at Common Room

Pics: Preparing the blackboard and the tea at St. Laurence’s Church (in an attic-like side room); Trade School Herbs for Resilience class, Feb 23rd Common Room, Norwich*; Lovely things people brought in exchange for the class Photos: Mark Watson & *Lucy Johnson

First published on the Transition Norwich blog 25th February 2013

Pre- Spring leap with Resilient Herbs at Trade School in the Common Room

104I’ve just signed up to teach my second Herbs for Resilience class as part of the Trade School  at the Common Room in Norwich on 23rd February at St. Laurences Church in Saint Benedict Street.

Basically you share some of your knowledge in the class and people pay you in kind. Trade School calls this bartering for knowledge. It’s a lovely way of doing things.

Jeppe (see below), who is co-organising the event this time, asked me a few weeks ago would I do it again and I was so immersed in winter and snow and the distribution for the first issue of the Transition Free Press newspaper, that I said, gosh I’d love to, but I just haven’t tuned in to the plants yet this year. Gotta tune in to do a class!

It got me a bit worried and then I realised that’s how it usually goes in the deep of winter. And just a day or two later, with the snow melted and the imminence of what some call Imbolc at the beginning of February, I discovered a pot of rather neglected Aloe Veras behind a curtain in the living room, just calling out for some TLC.

So I attended to them and since then the plants inside and out have been resurfacing into my awareness slowly but surely… today I made a plantain ointment from an infused oil I prepared last year. Been meaning to do that for ages.

“Okay, you’ve twisted my arm, I’ll sign up for it,” I replied, when Jeppe asked me again. “We’ll look at some of those spring tonics.”

Below is a post called Common Plants, Common Room, which I wrote on the Transition Norwich blog, This Low Carbon Life just before the first Trade School at the Common Room in November last year. I went to Jeppe’s Time Skills session, and learnt some Origami with Vanessa. Jon did bring me that coffee plant from the Eden Project. And my class went really well to boot.

Although the classes are set up so people book in and bring you something you want that you’ve put in your request list, I really wasn’t expecting anything, so the box of organic fruit and veg from Vanessa and the packet of seeds from Laura were lovely surprises.

It was a really great day! And the next one’s looking good too! Why not join us?

Pic: Teaching Herbs for Resilience at the Common Room, Norwich, November 2012 (Jeppe Graugaard)

Common Plants, Common Room (1 November 2012)

“I’ll teach a class on Herbs for Resilience,” I said to Jeppe at a recent Dark Mountain conversation in Norwich.

We were talking about the ‘Trade School’ at The Common Room prototype day at St Laurence church on 10th November, where in exchange for a barter item’ (which can be goods, produce or advice) you teach about something you know to people who want to know about it.

This sounds like a project that could help build resilience in a time of energy and financial constraints and ecological crisis. You meet people and get to swap some great skills. Most of what I’ve been doing in Transition over the past few years is helping people to connect with plants on all sorts of levels: as food, as medicine, as insect pollinators, as biospheric beings in their own right. Paying a different kind of attention to the plants around us.
“This is exciting,” I said. “In fact, I can do a herb class that’s part Plants for Life, part Low Carbon Cookbook. And I know just the local, wild plants to introduce to people.”

I’m keeping those two plants a secret until the day, but I already have loads of ideas for future sessions on resilient herbs, based on all the Plants for Life events this year with Sustainable Bungay: making fruit leathers from hawthorn berries and apple, for example, both tasty and a tonic for the heart and circulation. Making the most of the wild plants of spring: nettle, cleavers, dandelion, to galvanise our systems into action after the winter. Making plant oils and medicinal teas.

I look forward to attending Jeppe’s class on Time skills – Navigating life in the networked society (23pm) and maybe even Vanessa’s one on practical origami (3.304.30pm). Check here for the complete timetable, a description of the sessions and teachers and to sign up for classes.

And maybe fellow TN blogger Jon might pop by during the day, as he has a plant present for me from the Eden Project!

The whole day is about “exploring a way to bring St Laurence’s church back into use as a new type of shared space”.

So if you’d like this to be carried into the future, step inside, love!

It would be great to see you there! My class on Herbs for Resilience begins at 11.30am and will last around forty-five minutes.

Saturday 10th November, 9am – 4pm, St Laurence’s Church, Saint Benedict Street, Norwich NR2 4PGPic:  Collecting Yarrow from Herbs for Resilience – Yarrow, This Low Carbon Life, September 2010; Teaching a Medicine Plant workshop with Transition Belsize, London, May 2012

Mark in Flowers goes distributing papers (as well as seeds)

Happy new year everyone!

TreeTobaccoMy first piece for 2013 on Mark in Flowers is a crosspost of one I wrote for the Transition Free Press website, a callout for transition initiatives and related groups everywhere to sign up for a bundle of this exciting new newspaper on all things cultural downshift. Or to support our crowdfunding campaign. It’s going to be a busy time.

I’m keeping some space for the flowers as well though. This year I’m planning a small Mexican garden here at home, and I’m already excited about Mexican basil, which apparently has a cinnamon taste. And I’ll be growing some more epazote. Oh, and wild tobacco, and old favourites cempoalxochitl and tithonia, and…

MEANWHILE BACK TO THE PRESS:

Calling All Transition Initiatives, groups and individuals!

Free_Press_by_CheshireBatThe first ‘proper’ edition of the Transition Free Press is fast approaching publication and we need YOU to support us. That’s all those Transition Initiatives, related groups and individuals out there!

The editorial team, contributors, business and distribution departments have been working full-on over the past few months (did we just go through Solstice 2012 and Christmas?), commissioning, writing, collating, interviewing, proofing, editing, picture researching and making connections with the Transition network (small ‘n’) preparing this unique paper for its release on February 1st.

We have now covered the cost of printing and postage. Next up we need to pay contributors and the core team producing the paper.

Why do we need another printed paper in the world? Because the issue you will hold in your hands and read from cover to cover on the train, the bus, the sofa or the toilet, contains reports and stories you just won’t find anywhere else in print media. Stories, from the dedicated transition groups and individuals working towards the energy-leaner future that  for some is already making its presence felt.

This is the paper where you see you’re not alone in making those vital steps towards a more collaborative, less destructive way of life. Read the latest on the gift economy, food and austerity, how communities are standing their ground against fracking and facing land rights issues. Discover what climate change scientists are really saying about carbon levels in the atmosphere and find out how to get local with food growing  and production. We’ll even be introducing an agony column for those times when we all feel lost in transition.

The Transition Free Press is written by transitioners from the UK to Japan to Europe and the Americas. It can be read by everyone everywhere. Because although we might live in different worlds, we share one planet. And that planet is changing, fast.
Mark Watson, TFP Distribution

If you are a transition initiative or community group who would like to distribute a bundle of Transition Free Press papers, see details here.

Or support us on the Buzzbnk crowdfunding platform, here

Read the Preview Issue here.

Transition Free Press – the change is in your heart, head and hands

Images: Tree Tobacco flowering in the house, 1st January 2013 (MW); Cartoon by ~CheshireBat. Everything here is Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Because the worlds are round… and wavy

For the Summer Solstice and 24 Hours of Possibility I stayed offline and concentrated on connecting with the living systems of the earth, beginning with a visit to the beach at four in the morning to see the sunrise half an hour later.

It sounds like the simplest thing in the world to just remain offline for twenty four hours. The truth is I can’t remember the last time I had an internet-free day. Much of Transition communications is a web-based business. Just the previous day I’d been emailing and tweeting everyone in Sustainable Bungay about Green Drinks that evening and updating a post on the website about it. I went to the Green Dragon with a host of flowers in jars to speak about plant families for the second Plants for Life event in three days.

It was a misty dawn just off the sunrise coast here in Suffolk and I settled for sensing the moment of the sun coming up over the sea rather than seeing it. It can be just as exciting, that moment when you FEEL it and become aware of other senses than the visual at play.

But the coast was clear, the tide was out and the sea was calm! And here’s what it looked like a few minutes after the sun rose.
The photograph gives only the merest impression of the stillness and the quiet fullness of everything. No one else was around. The tide was out. The wind was occasional and light. I stilled my thoughts and tuned in with my feet on the ground. Everything felt big and wide and yes, if I had to put it in words, filled with possibility. My body felt relaxed and alert all at once. The sun seemed like a being, something like a person.

Back home

I set about making a midsummer birthday herbal drink for Charlotte to take on her journey to the Transition Tin Village at the Sunrise festival later that day. It was some time before seven, the sun well risen and the whole garden alive and shining with its mix of wild and cultivated plants and bushes. Plant and flower time can be a very different experience from clock time and when I glanced again at the kitchen clock it was way past nine o’ clock!

By then I had gathered 47 different plants for the midsummer herbal cocktail, and they were infusing in the teapot. You could smell them throughout the house: a whole array of mints, English and Japanese mugwort, elder, heartsease and marigold flowers, two types of fennel, lovage (one small leaf!), anise hyssop, giant mexican hyssop, lemon balm, salad burnet, southernwood, lemon verbena, two sages, chia, epazote (very small leaf!), lavender, vervain, alecost, plantain, white deadnettle… and twenty-odd more. I added some fresh organic lemon juice and some fruit syrup (we’d run out of honey, which tastes better, but the syrup was okay) et voila!

When I asked Charlotte to guess what plants were in the drink, she named at least twenty five that I hadn’t put in along with the ones that were there!
Now it was time for the tortilla, or Spanish omelette, all local eggs, potatoes and onions, Norfolk tomatoes and homegrown parsley, basil and Greek oregano. The birthday, solstice and cross-country journey food and drink were prepared.
So when Simon arrived from Norwich with two friends just after midday to pick Charlotte up for their shared car journey to Somerset, I thought, now I’ll do my reconnecting with the living systems.
Then realised I’d been doing it all morning.
One thing that struck me during these 24 screen-free, pixel-free hours of possibility: How wavy the living world is. And how round.

Photos: Summer Solstice Foxgloves at sunrise, Southwold; Talking plant families at Green Drinks, Bungay June 2012; Summer Solstice Sunrise, Southwold June 2012; Garden Shining, June 2012; midsummer birthday 47 herbs for infusion; mostly local Spanish tortilla (all by MW)

First published on the Transition Norwich Blog – This Low Carbon Life and the Transition Social Reporting Project on 22nd June 2012

 

Felling the Rest of the Elm – By Hand and Not Alone

Earlier this year I wrote about felling a dead elm at the bottom of the garden and I managed to get the first two trunks done by hand. I’d never felled a tree before and was surprised at how natural it felt. Using a handsaw I could sense as I went the direction I needed to go in and the trunks fell just in the right place.

But the final trunk was slightly thicker and taller than the others, not much, but enough. I went out one day to try and fell it but the strangest thing happened. As I put the saw to the tree I felt the energy in my body weaken and I couldn’t saw the trunk. I went inside and made a cup of tea. Then went to try again. Same thing happened. I decided not to go ahead.

That’s when Nick offered to come over from Bungay with his chainsaw and we’d do the felling together. Nick sometimes works with our mutual friend Paul, a tree surgeon, but had not yet felled a tree himself.

The first time he came it rained and we didn’t want to risk electric shock so we sawed up some of the wood I’d already cut down. And we arranged another date which was yesterday.

It rained again. So we decided to go ahead using a handsaw for the first wedge cut and a two-person saw for the straight one. It was really good fun. And Nick brought over a sawing horse he’d half finished, made from two pallets nailed together. So sawing the wood will be a lot easier now.

Many things strike me about this apparently simple event. First I hadn’t really noticed just how little rain there’s been here over the past months, despite the fact we’ve all been talking about it and the frequent mention of droughts in the South and East of England. I’d forgotten what a day of real rain was like! And just how dry it has been…

Secondly I was struck again by just how much being involved with transition has changed my life. I would never have considered felling a tree before, not even a dead one. I would not have taken much notice of the fact that these elms shoot up from a network of roots underground and regenerate themselves from the bottom up. Or bothered to discover that if you keep them as a hedge they don’t succumb to Dutch Elm disease, which is what ‘killed’ this tall one.

I would not have known Nick or anyone else I’ve met through Transition existed nor they I. And I wouldn’t have known what building community resilience was, nor that it would be made up of all the small and large meetings, projects, shared lunches, produce swaps and helping each other to do things like fell dead elms for firewood.

Here are some more photos from yesterday:

Nick grins through successful wedge cut

 considering positions

going to meet the wedge cut

felled dead elm, helped down at the last minute by looping a VERY LONG washing line on a lower branch stump and tugging (making sure I was well out of the way)

photos: Charlotte Du Cann (creative commons with attribution)

Love, Food and the Whole Damn Thing

I published this post originally on the Transition Network Social Reporting blog on Monday 31st October 2011 as part of the Food and Health week led by Tamzin Pinkerton.

P7230014-240x180Sunday 30 October 10.15pm Not my planned intro but… I’ve just read Tamzin’s extraordinary account of her family’s (successful) two and a half year fight to bring her 8 year old daughter back to health from leukaemia, which introduces our week on food and health. I was totally gripped, both by its clarity and strength of purpose and by Tamzin’s direct gaze at the chilling disconnect in the hospital system between what patients are fed and the affect it has on their health. (Friends who work in school kitchens tell me similar stories of bad food).

It also brought back a memory. Twenty years ago several of my lymph glands swelled up and I felt exhausted all the time. I moved out of my Camden flat and went to live with Charlotte in Westbourne Park Road. I went for medical tests, and on the insistence of a hospital doctor, agreed to a biopsy.

Two main things I remember about this time. One, Charlotte took charge of my meals over many months, and with attention and love made sure I ate plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit. Two, I was bolshy with the doctors. I demanded to know EVERYTHING! I told the surgeon if the gland under my arm would do for the biopsy then I didn’t want him cutting the one in my neck as I’d heard it could be disfiguring, even though that was the gland the doctor had recommended be cut. I missed my premed and was wheeled fully conscious down to the operating theatre and the anaesthetic.

In the end all the tests were clear. And we sold everything and went to Latin America. Six weeks later in a swimming pool in Guatemala I suddenly knew I’d recovered from whatever it was. I also knew my health could have gone either way. Something about Charlotte’s care, along with my own stubborn awareness that it was my body I’d been living in for twenty nine years, not the doctors’, helped me get better.

This was the start of my own reconnection with the natural world. Over the next ten years I lived and worked in Mexico, the Andes and the Arizona desert, studied with herbalists and medicine people and got to know the landscapes and (some of) the plants that grew in them.

Yarrow 2-240x180But it was whilst living in Oxford at the end of the 90s that I really started taking notice, going out to meet the neighbourhood plants. In wastegounds and meadows, churchyards and botanical gardens – yarrow, St. John’s wort, evening primrose, willows and willowherbs and two hundred more. Each with its own ‘properties’ and character, its story to tell if I just got still and listened. I made teas and tinctures, perfumes and poultices. Plants would come into my dreams and give me clues as to how to sow their seeds or even negotiate a personal difficulty. In short I immersed myself in plants and became infused with their essence – and loved it!

These were the days where I learned to pay attention.

So, back to the future. How to organise ten thousand experiences and thoughts from the past three and a half years in Sustainable Bungay and Transition Norwich and say one or two things about Food, Health and Transition that might be nourishing. They’re all related. So where do I start?

Food, and the awareness of it, is as integral a part of transition for me as a basic grasp of fossil fuel constraints, social (in)equality and justice, the collapse of the current economy and a feeling for the living systems of the planet. That’s the bigger picture stuff and what my involvement in Transition has taught me about in these years.

IMG_6400-300x225_0-240x180In practical terms in our initiatives, food weaves itself through everything – through the growing and the swapping, the shared meals at meetings and the CSAs, the transition circles and the carbon conversations.

In Sustainable Bungay it’s the apples and pears Cathy and Lesley bring from their trees to the Autumn Produce Swap at the Library Community Garden. It’s the Growing Local conference at a local church. It’s the whitecurrants, runner beans, burdock root and chard that Charlotte and Nick bring to the monthly meetings along with Gemma’s cake. It’s the Transition Cafe at the Waveney Greenpeace Fair and the beetroot and foraged sea buckthorn salad we eat at home together afterwards.

IMG_6886-320x240

It’s also Happy Mondaysthe community café we hold down at Bungay community centre every six weeks using produce grown and foraged locally, including from our own gardens and allotments.

Medicine Jelly June 2010-240x180And it’s the medicine jellies and soups I make with local wild and garden herbs, and take along to transition events and meetings to help clear a blocked sinus or to warm against a late winter chill. And which taste delicious. And the Spring Tonic walk Charlotte and I led a few years ago to connect fellow Bungay and Norwich transitioners (note embedded shared lunch) with the food/medicine plants growing around us.

And here’s where the boundaries between food and medicine start to blur. It’s about relationship and connection – as far away as you can possibly get from the left-hemispherical medical obsession with weight (stats) and disregard for the living human being Tamzin speaks about in her piece.

Relationship and connection – to the people we’re with, the plants and animals we grow and eat (and those we don’t) and the places we live in. At the same time keeping awake to the bigger planetary picture. These are perhaps the most important things to engage in, given what happens when they are left out of the equation.

PA300012-240x180Yesterday I went up to Bungay Library Community Gardento start preparing the central bed for next year’s Medicine Plant theme. In true permacultural style we’re working with many of the plants already there, so starting isn’t really the right word.

“Leave the greater celandine, it’s a major detoxifier, wart remover and beautiful native member of the poppy family,” I called out. And so too we’re leaving the dock, mugwort, feverfew, thyme, calendula, vervain and herb robert. I’ll be adding chickweed, nettles and dandelion in time, aswell as organising talks and conversations for 2012, welcoming stories from people about their own relationship with medicinal plants, exploringresilient herbs – and borrowing some label inspiration from Transition Finsbury Park’s Edible Landscapes project!

And if anyone in or around Bungay is reading this and has some Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower) plants spare which will flower next year, please get in touch!

Resilience FlowersPics: Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Bungay; Feel the Beet, Carrot and Parsley; Picking Yarrow 2010 Suffolk; Charlotte, Margaret and Nick at the Transition Cafe, Waveney Greenpeace Fair 2011; Happy Mondays Community Kitchen Crew – Nick, Christine, Lesley, Gemma and Josiah Oct 2011; Medicine Jelly; Library Community Garden Oct 2011; Herbs for Resilience All photos: CDC and MW