The nights have lengthened, and the trees have once again, decorated the soil with their crisp and colourful autumn leaves. At this time of seasonal change, we are reminded of Bill Mollison’s view on the kind of social and ecological adaptation we require:
“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.”
Of course, not all of us can afford gardens in our current dominant system, but even a windowsill can provide some growing space for those who are very constricted. I am reminded of the work of Psychologist Carl Rogers who observed the growth of potatoes in poor conditions. He noticed that the humble potato finds a way to produce new shoots and grow even though their circumstances may not be conducive for their utmost success. He goes on to liken this to the psychological and emotional development of human beings, doing the best we can in the environments we find ourselves in. Perhaps we should be as the potatoes in a practical sense too, setting out our new, fresh shoots, taking steps, no matter how small, towards self-sufficiency, in the hope that somehow the world around us may adapt in response to our desire to be able to meet our own needs.
This contemplation seems relevant to social developments we have witnessed since the onset of the pandemic whereby people have been abandoning employment that they feel no longer serves them, leaving in droves, taking great risks in the striving to live a full and meaningful life. Large gaps have been left in the ‘work force’ as we had known it. This could be evidence of a growing collective yearning for ‘another way’ of living and being. As we begin to truly value ourselves, our time, energy and effort, how can we ensure our basic needs are met?
We know that our simplest requirements include food, warmth and shelter. We would therefore primarily benefit from developing communities of growers, packers, drivers or cyclists, cooks, land owners, constructors, electricians, coordinators, carpenters and so on. We can be resourceful, re-using old wood, found metal and tend to objects, that can be restored. Let’s embrace being ‘hands on’, using the tools which make us uniquely human. Our hands enable us to craft, create, cook, grow, build, construct, embrace, touch and connect with the land and soil. We know that working with both of our hands is inherently healing for us, an understanding that has been validated by recent neuroscience findings. We may also be reassured to know that using our hands is also a valuable gateway towards us resolving our experiences of trauma.
Ultimately, we know that it is in ourselves and our immediate communities that our true resilience lies. This is a great opportunity to take matters into our own hands and get back to basics.