From the editor

Adjusting to the darkness

Angus Soutar

I write this at the end of October as I watch the turn of the season in the British archipeligo. The evenings are now noticeably darker. We are at All Hallows, the beginning of solar winter. The Celts, who lived in these islands long before us, called it Samhain and saw the festival as a signal to prepare for winter. As the darkness progresses, the past, the present, and perhaps the future converge. Memories and hopes rise in our consciousness, drifting us towards thoughts of loss, doubt and uncertainty.

There is no summer without a winter and I am thankful for the summer just gone. Now I have to let it go. Rather than resist, I accept the flow of the seasons. I remain positive. The coming winter will provide some welcome time to reflect, to dream and make plans. When I am uncertain, it encourages me to look at things in a new way. When I have doubts, they will encourage me to ask questions.

Questions arise in times of change and to ignore them is to deny ways forward. Permaculture itself came out of a flourish of questioning in the 1970's. The permaculture approach becomes more and more valuable as we rush into this era of hyper-novelty which threatens to overwhelm our ability to make sense of the world and react appropriately with it. These are uncomfortable times. Many of us are already over-occupied with the challenges of day-to-day living and take the easy way out, allowing other people to tell us what to think and how to think it. But this makes us even more vulnerable to the changes that are coming.

Those close to me have observed how my attitudes have shifted over the last ten years. I've changed my mind on several topics of the day: Brexit, "green" policies, response to the Wuhan virus, recent vaccination programmes (keen readers of Northern Edge may have noticed this evolution). Once my mind changes, my behaviour alters accordingly. Unpredictable it might be, but this is not random. I change because I keep a close eye on changes around me, gather evidence, ask questions and talk things through with other people.

Resilience is all about adapting to change. One of the stepping stones towards personal resilience is the ability to change our thinking, to think differently about a particular situation. Sometimes, this is hard work. Rather than become passive consumers of other people's opinion, our future relies on us staying flexible in our thinking and observing the world carefully. We stay open to each other's opinions but we are wary of persuasion. The discipline of permaculture demands that we work things out for ourselves, based on the evidence we gather and the merits of each and every situation

Although I stay ready to change my mind, I want to stick to the things I value, the values of Permaculture and the Northrn School. Building a community around values allows us to work alongside others who we would not normally associate with. There is real power in coming together to achieve something worthwhile. Perhaps the most attractive thing about permaculture is the true diversity that exists amid the unity of shared values.

"Resilience Man" Chris Martenson, in an article about his Peak Prosperity community points out that the future will not be determined by the increasingly vaccous left wing-right wing politics but whether we start from a place of integrity rather than ideological dogma. Accepting dogma encourages laziness in our thinking and leaves us vulnerable to exploitation.

"Integrity" means a consistency with our values: the things that we hold dear. In permaculture this includes Nature and human relationships, along with the timeless cycles and the traditional practices that help sustain those precious connections.

Our values meet the cold reality of the modern world in this issue of Northern Edge. Recent issues have been somewhat thin because of the efforts going into our new website, but we hope you will find this one is back to "full strength". We continue our theme of mobility with the second part of Teresa's epic overland journey and another article in our series on Permaculture Motoring. We hope that this will get more of a debate going, because we find the current state of travel and transport to be out of touch with any ideas of a sustainable future.

Horses in autumn

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