Happy New Year to all our readers in the North and beyond! We hope that this newsletter finds you rested after the darkest winter days as we slowly begin to meander our way towards Spring. Here at Northern Edge we have continued to reflect on the importance of maintaining and generating connections at this crucial juncture in our progress towards a more functional and productive way of life.
We are aware that we genuinely and deeply rely on each other. We need to work with people whose skills and abilities complement, enhance and add to our own; sharing knowledge; ideas; finding new ways forward; noting what works as well as what we can discard. This understanding would be a fruitful progression towards working together further. As we network, create opportunities and build on existing projects, we can build resilience in our local communities. In fact, community resilience can only really emerge through strengthening the connections between people, both locally and over wider areas.
We are reminded that we all have our own unique skills, abilities and perspectives. These work best and are fully enjoyed, acknowledged and appreciated when they are shared for the common good. If we are willing to play, to be open to suggestions and new ways of working, we may begin to form collaborative projects that push permaculture design and methods in new directions. This flourishing of co-creation has the potential to deepen our levels of resilience.
We have an opportunity to map a ‘sphere of action’ here in the North, connecting permaculture practice, people and landscape. If we identify meeting points we can engage with others face-to-face to exchange information, support future collaborations thus further developing a thriving community in which sharing is fundamental. We would then be able to turn our networks of people into a ‘work nets’ of individuals who can answer each other’s calls for support, guidance, assistance with design and requests for particular skills. This could even lead to more specialised areas of interest. We may then find that our success, well-being and progress is built and maintained on the strength of our relationships as its fundamental foundation.
We can seek out new settings, venues and form hubs dedicated to embedding permaculture within our communities. In the deep midwinter, as we reconnect with our roots, this consideration is most timely. In the gentle silence of the season we can remember the importance of simply listening to, connecting with and being with others who have the same intentions, values and ideals. We also need to ensure that we are listening closely to marginalised and vulnerable members of our communities, for these individuals often hold the wisdom of the collective. We will require a clear commitment in valuing all people, no matter how “difficult” they may appear to be. It is worth recognising that those often considered by our dominant culture to be a ‘burden’ on society are often the most powerful in helping us to reconnect with our compassion and regard for all at this time. In their struggles and sometimes profound suffering, these individuals are reminding us to reach out to all members of our human family, no matter how neglected or seemingly forgotten. For humanity to become whole we need to establish a culture that welcomes those who may feel ostracised, whilst supporting them in recognising their true worth and potential.
Presently, on our national and global stage we are met with polarisation and division fuelled relentlessly by our divisive communications media. We can get caught up in these quandaries, lose ourselves in despair, or choose instead to seek out our immediate common ground. This, regardless of political views or ideals, is likely to include our shared needs, hopes and dreams for ourselves, our families, communities and entire human family. Together we can each contribute to a society that embraces and supports the development of healthy, diverse and productive life enabling environments. By following this proposed people-powered strategy, local networks will grow organically. People can make connections where they live geographically, with the opportunity for cross fertilisation with others, both on their doorstep and within wider systems. We can continue to map permaculture resources and projects, seek inspiration, organise visits, welcome new people, develop relationships with sites and landowners. In doing so, we come to a deeper knowledge of the systems that allow life to flourish. We might move on to identify what we are lacking, further encourage and foster creativity, link in with forest gardens, local schools, religious groups and more.
As we witness the tragic rise in the need and use of foodbanks we recognise an urgency to generate real and lasting change. If we produce our own food in our communities we would be able to ensure that the people in our locality have access to some high quality foods that support and maximise health. No one should have to live in poverty or isolation. A truly civilised society would never allow this. We are the culture changers and when we form real, lasting connections and relationships we can really begin to evolve. For people to be free and independent they need the ability to sustain and support themselves, safe in the knowledge that their fellow human beings are also supporting them in becoming all that they are.
It is not competition and “survival of the fittest” that enables our species to survive. That is a story told by a minority of individuals who wish to hold dominance, power and control over others. The principles of cooperation, collaboration, trust, love, mutual support and sharing within a culture can together weave an environment in which people can grow, reconnect with themselves, and with each other. Everyone can realise their full potential in unity. Now is the time for us to shift our direction.