Green T

Tanvir Naomi Bush Uncategorized 6 Comments

Gawd, hasn’t the news been bad these last few months! We seem to stagger from one disaster to another, reeling from bankruptcy to environmental destruction to terrorism and this morning there was more talk about the noise pollution in the seas – so much so that the whales and dolphins can’t hear themselves think and can’t communicate nor navigate. I know they are all going to become extinct shortly anyway but it hardly seems fair considering their fins aren’t long enough to clap over their ears.

Was it ever thus or is it worse? I just cannot remember a time when there was a decent stretch without famine, war or ecological disaster. In the early 90’s to cope with it all I decided with my partner that ‘permaculture’ was the one true way. It meant looking at you feet, the ground you were standing on, your home, the people around you and designing ecological and responsible systems for the area you lived.

The premise was kind of: ‘Once you have tidied your own house, nicely mind..with proper attention to the lime scale in the bathroom, then you can teach other people to tidy theirs. ‘ (That’s a biblical quote you know: Book of Chores; chap 10 verse 10.) In other words if we ensured we had our own sustainable system in place perhaps others would cotton on and follow. Perhaps it would spread around the entire world!

My then man and I set up the ‘Exmouth Earth Bank’ in Devon, a local charity shop and information centre dedicated to the promotion of all things sustainable from worm bins to recycled sanitary towels (don’t ask). We took over an old corner shop and painted it with organic milk based paint. It smelt like a dairy. We set up a Local Trading System and I helped my partner begin a vegetable box scheme involving and supporting local organic farmers. All this we did for free working in dead end jobs to pay the rent. And it felt great..for a while.

The only problem was that what had seemed romantic and worthy soon proved to be a bit of a grinding bore. We became friends with wonderful, innovative people but would also constantly attract the odd balls of the community; raw gallic eating fructivores who had vowed to never wash, teenage travellers with dogs on strings and stripped woolly socks who only wanted enough gardening skills to grow skunk and cider apples and who disappeared off whenever there was digging to be done, the local Marxist with his rather large shoulder chip.

I had a fight with the student volunteers in the Earth Bank shop who said I was a fascist for insisting they wear shoes. I tried to explain we were trying to bring environmentalism to a main stream audience (back then in Tory Britain, people thought environmentalism was worse then transvestism..much worse given that most of the Tory government had a penchant for French knickers and whips)

I became disenchanted, especially in the cold, wet, often frozen earth of England with the constant disapproval of much of the local conservative community. I didn’t seem to know anyone who read anything but instruction manuals on compost toilet systems and solar panels made from old radiators. Secretly I wanted to make films, to write, I wanted to travel. I wanted romance, not to spend the rest of my days packing onions, organic or no, into cardboard boxes in a freezing shed with chapped lips and only enough money for a couple of pints at the end of the week. We were saving up to buy land, some mud soaked field we could start our new life on in some freezing caravan.
For me it was never going to work. I chickened out but I have always thought that eventually I’ll return to it all…. just not quite yet!

However, long story short and all that and to cheer us all up I found a couple of absolutely daft photos of me in that life and thought they might make you chuckle

Check them Little Rebel braids!

Comments 6

  1. Wow, what a story, I currently live in Exmouth and work on the paper.
    I would love to do a piece on your work here if you’re ever settled in one place long enough for me to call you.

  2. I love it!

    We’re sustaining ourselves to a certain degree out here in northwest Ireland, but it’s nowhere near what we first dreamed of doing. You’re right; growing vegetables and caring for goats and hens might be fun in South Carolina but it SUCKS in year-round freezing sleet gales.

    When we first came out here, the dream was to go completely off-grid eventually. Now, well, we do what we can stand. We do grow vegetables, though we don’t completely feed ourselves. We only buy clothes in charity shops and we return outgrown clothes there too. We compost and recycle, and grow biomass willow for firewood to cut our dependence on the oil radiators. We gave up the goats but the hens remain.

    Compromises, I suppose, between the ideals of the heart and the demands of the (aging) body and busy life! Having special-needs kids did make an impact on what we could and couldn’t do.

    I love the photographs; they’re wonderful! Great smile, and I like those braids. Thanks for sharing them!

  3. Post

    Hi Dina,
    It was quite some time ago but sure ..I’d be happy to try and rake up some memories. I’ll call next week.

    Hey Susan and WOW! i was already in awe of your phenomenal writing skills and knowing how much you are juggling with family and work and now turns out you have a mighty green heart! I have yet to put in a slug proof veggie patch in my garden which is terrible as been here over three years. hopefully this summer… hmmm. I’d love some hens tho’. More soon and thanks for the lovely comment as per!
    T x

  4. Haha! Sweet man. That pic is an antidote to all the news.
    Well, I’ve been so happy to land for a while on a wee patch of earth where I can grow mielies next to pre-existing rose bushes, and harvest enough stuff for daily salads. I’m working on a grey water cleaning system, and I don’t yet have the rain tank OR the solar geyser, though I do have worms and compost. But yes, I think that its in the suburbs that it really needs to happen. I wonder if it will move from being something romantic to something purely practical, and we’ll trade our tomatoes for our neighbours strawberries? I agree its a dam hard slog though. I would rather fend off teethbaring baboons than dig frozen ground. urgh.

  5. Screw him!

    Thanks good ness you didnt end up as a hippy chick smelling of patruli and eating raw food.

    But that picture with the braids….ooohhhh…..its so so good! I love love love it!

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