Categories
Community Practice Soil Spirituality Urban

Miles’s Lane

I noticed this chap’s grave on my periodic visit to Bunhill Fields to say hello to William Blake and the other nonconformists. This being 2024 you can look up a performance of Shrubsole’s music. May he rest in peace.

Categories
Community Food Health Nutrition Urban

Parkway Greens

I love to visit this shop. It’s the best fruit and vegetable shop I know in London. Looking at it from across the road today, I thought to myself, “This shop isn’t ALWAYS going to be there…” So I reasoned I had better take some photos of it. Just like I used to chronicle record shops back in the day.

This evening, reflecting further on that transience, I remembered Compendium Books by Camden Lock, just around the corner from Parkway Greens, a remarkable store and something of a cultural hub for the many years it was there.

We don’t think of green grocers in quite the same affectionate way as bookshops, but of course we should. The owner here is a particularly lovely chap. Long may he prosper.

Categories
Community Ecology Urban

Guerilla Bamboo

The Camellia from 2002 looking very well.

Categories
Community Ecology Growing Health Organic Practice Regenerative Soil Urban

Broad Bean Harvest 2024

The broad beans that I planted in December were ready to be picked. They hadn’t formed nearly as big a bush as last year.

The harvest wasn’t bad, but was not as impressive as before.

These stems went onto the compost heap.

I think this shows the limits of the viability of applying No Dig principles to containers. There’s not enough nutrients OR biology to support more growth.

And I’d taken measures. Rotating the crops, and after all beans are a legume, after the first round of them I’ve had buckwheat and nigella before this crop. I’ve also applied leaf mould. And chanted my mantra over them too, innit.

Digging it out, I WAS surprised to see that the trough was not root bound.

But equally it was rooty enough…

The box itself, given to me by my dear-departed father-in-law, was in need of some repairs. This was another reason to crack into it.

Sieving the soil produced these nuggety chunks of clay. So hard they felt almost like gravel. Sorry, but in no way could these be an optimal growing environment…

Biology

But it wasn’t all barren! There was a lot of insect life. No doubt from the poor guys who lost their homes in my demolishment. Aah, they’ll be OK! I will look after them. It’s mainly wood lice, but there’s other stuff happening. Wait for the cat’s miaow at the end.

But check out these nitrogen nodules on the broad bean plant’s roots. This has been the first time I have seen this with my own eyes. Very impressive.

I mixed the sieved soil from the wooden trough with a mixture of Lakeland Gold compost and some Carbon Gold fertiliser pellets. Heaven knows if that will work?

This new soil went into a shelter I’ve built for the next crop, buckwheat and a few others in pots.

The beans themselves were delicious.

I shared them, steamed and then dressed with olive oil and salt, with Mrs Ingram.

Categories
Agriculture Community Ecology Practice Urban

P-POD

Researching my forthcoming book which is now complete, “The Garden: Visionary Growers and Farmers of the Counterculture”, I visited the New Alchemy Institute in Cape Cod. Watch this wonderful National Film Board of Canada documentary if you’re interested in finding out a little about New Alchemy.

I interviewed Hilde Maingay and Earle Barnhart, the married couple who were central members of the collective. They now live at the site itself, which was originally not inhabited. Maingay herself was the main grower; the garden there was at the heart of New Alchemy’s activity.

I enjoyed their company so much that during lunch I offered to make them a video for their current project, the P-POD. Between jobs this past few weeks I designed and animated this film which I can share with you.

Categories
Community Ecology Practice Spirituality Urban Wilderness

The World About Us

Created by David Attenborough “The World About Us” was a BBC Two television documentary series. Its central topic was natural history, but it had a wide remit covering people and geography. Running from 1967 to 1986 its list of contributors is remarkable.

“The World About Us” was the only TV show which, as children, we were allowed to stay up late to watch. It aired on Sunday evenings in the mid-seventies. I trace my fascination with animation back to The Pink Panther and The Rescuers, but before them “The World About Us” title sequence, commissioned by Attenborough, was the first thing that entranced me. What was this, this golden latticed globe, with its eerie aftertrails? Where was it?

My initial hunch was that the sequence was the work of Bernard Lodge who made the first Dr. Who title sequence, and I was correct. Blogger Tim Dickinson Pink for Your Actual Pterodactyl has a wonderful breakdown of it.

Lodge designed a skeleton ‘globe’ from bands of metal. The bands intersected both vertically and diagonally… Filming on 35mm, the globe revolved on a black background, and the camera tracked from one side of the screen to another. This negative was later replicated with the bands rotating in the opposite direction. The key ingredient was the duplication of the film six times, with each frame shifted by 2 or 3 frames. The resulting dupe (negative) consisted of a swirling array of bands.

An additional negative of the globe zooming into the screen was recorded, again using the same process. This faded out as the two tracking shots (the ‘pan from left to right, and right to left) cleared the frame. This left the sans-serif title caption to fade in, before the sequence fades to black in time with the final flute motif. Lodge used a simple and effective technique, using multiple exposures to create a world rich in mystery and intrigue. The repeated imagery fits perfectly with the swirling, echoing, multi-layered soundtrack.

The title sequence to ‘The World About Us’ (BBC, 1967, Bernard Lodge)

The cue by John Scott was, I know now, straight out of the Paul Horn playbook. Jazz as it sheared into the New Age. The sequence has all the hallmarks of Hauntology, because (and this is my own definition), this was TV as a conduit of the countercultural current.

Animation is a very etheric pursuit, but refreshingly these metaphysical graphics and music were tethered to a TV show on… the world about us. As above, so below.

Categories
Community Spirituality Wilderness

Twin Oaks Fire

Our  industrial center, Emerald City, is on fire

One of America’s legendary communes, Twin Oaks, originally modelled on ideas from B.F. Skinner’s “Walden Two” (1948) book, has been badly damaged in a fire. I haven’t written extensively about Twin Oaks in my upcoming book “The Garden”- but they are close on the heels of Tennessee’s Farm for being North America’s most famous and successful commune. Anna writes:

On Wednesday afternoon March 20th 2024, tragedy struck Twin Oaks when a nearby wild fire spread to our property, completely destroying our warehouse complex, our sawmill and our conference site. Over 200 acres burned through the night, forcing the entire community to evacuate. Luckily, no people, pets or residences were damaged. While we do have a disaster fund, the damage we’re facing is devastatingly huge. The structures destroyed include our large warehouse complex, our sawmill, 4 vehicles, our kilns, a hoop-house, a functioning outdoor kitchen and pavilion at the conference site, countless storage structures including 3 barns and 2 trailers, and many other small structures. We are estimating a loss of more than a million dollars. This loss also means the end of our 57-year old hammocks business, which was Twin Oaks’ beating heart for many decades since its foundation in 1967. Other Twin Oaks businesses experienced losses as well, but will most likely recover.‍

The Leaves of Twin Oaks #132
Vehicles and buildings destroyed
Destroyed wood-working machine with ruined workshop / warehouse in background
Ropemaking Twister ruined

[Photos by Anna and Jane]

One is able to make a contribution here.

Categories
Community Ecology Practice Urban

Harsh Pollarding

Link

Categories
Community Ecology Spirituality

Jimi Cauty Posters

I remember “The Hobbit” poster from my friend Matt David’s brother Rod’s bedroom. But I wasn’t aware of these other beauties. An art school education failed to beat out of me an appreciation of this kind of thing.

Categories
Community Ecology Growing Wilderness

Geodesic Dome Patent Drawings

Every communard’s favourite. The template for many a green house. Look! You can inspect Buckminster Fuller‘s patent application for the Geodesic Dome!