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Solutions & sustainability - Apr 16

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Transition Towns in New Zealand

Jeff Neems, Waikato Times (NZ)
James Samuel says we should all be preparing for life in a world without cheap oil.
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James Samuel wants to see New Zealanders get off their couches, into their garden, and get some dirt under their fingernails.

Samuel is the national co-ordinator for Transition Towns, a movement pioneered in the UK in late 2006.

While Transition Towns essentially grew from the notion of permaculture an approach to designing human settlements, in particular the development of perennial agricultural systems that mimic the structure and interrelationship found in natural ecologies Samuel says its "main drivers" are peak oil and climate change.

... "In New Zealand, we are not short on land, and there's plenty of it to grow food on and if you want to build a little resilience into your life, grow some food in your backyard. And if you don't have your own backyard, find somebody who does."

... A Transition Towns group in Upper Hutt has listed suggested sustainable methods on the movement's New Zealand website (www.transitiontowns.org.nz): home gardens based on permaculture models, community gardens (there is already one in Hamilton East), keeping chickens, planting trees which produce fruit, improving cycleways (cars will be redundant when there is no oil), implementing home and farm water harvesting methods and aiming to produce zero waste.

... Samuel believes the Transition Towns movement is growing exponentially in New Zealand, and he sees himself as riding a wave of people who are realising it's a tool kit they can use.
(15 April 2008)


The real Good Life: An entire village turns against supermarkets and grows its own food

Luke Salkeld, Daily Mail (UK)
It was a sitcom that inspired many a household to live off the land.

And although it might not attract the likes of Margo and Jerry to move to the area, an entire village is trying its hand at the Good Life.

In a bid to become less dependent on supermarkets, the residents of Martin are working together to become as self-sufficient as possible.

The Hampshire village is now home to hundreds of real life versions of the characters played by Felicity Kendall and Richard Briers, who lived off the land in the 1970s BBC comedy.

They work on a rota system and raise their own chickens and pigs and grow potatoes, garlic, onions, chillis and green vegetables on eight acres of rented land.
(14 April 2008)
Nice photos and more at original. Could some UK reader explain what is going on with the British newspapers? Some of the most green themed stories I've seen have been in the Telegraph, Times, and now the Daily Mail. I would have expected them in the Guardian or Independent, but in a tabloid?

Another good story from the Daily Mail: Why IS our food costing so much? -BA

UPDATE (Apr 16) Reader candy graciously enlightens us:
As a Limey, here's my take:

The Mail in particular is aimed at 'security-driven' people who want to be safe, do the decent thing, and not get ripped off. To the Mail's credit they did a major campaign against GM food on those grounds, and frankly we may owe it to them that the UK isn't swamped in the stuff, because their campaign reached beyond "the usual suspects" (i.e. people like me).

People in the UK are beginning to get concerned that supermarkets are ripping us off and "reducing choice" particularly for older people who can't always drive. The Mail has had for a long time a strong "consumer-rights" thread, and some consumer rights issues are also 'green' e.g. pesticide residues, other non-safety-tested substances in cleaning sprays etc (Mail readers like cleaning products, it's the "safety" thing again).

In short, I think a lot of "environmental" issues are now also being seen, by UK people, as threats to safety and security. It might be an Island thing: last bar one on the oil supply line, and threatened by sea level rise.


Author trades suburbia for ‘simple’ life

Chris Lydgate, Portland Tribune
With insight and wit, Doug Fine weans himself off fossil fuels
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... Of course, the shimmering daydream can easily veer into brutal, sunbaked nightmare, as author Doug Fine demonstrates in “Farewell, My Subaru,” an instructive, fascinating and often hilarious account of one man’s efforts to embark on a “hypocrisy reduction project” and get back to nature - in this case, the Sonoran Desert.

In 2005, at age 35, Fine, an itinerant journalist raised on the sheltered shores of suburban Long Island, packed his bags and moved to a remote ranch in the Mimbres Valley of southern New Mexico.

His goal was deceptively simple: to throw off the shackles of the carbon lifestyle while still enjoying the conveniences of modern America. To that end, he resolved to trade in his beloved Subaru for a biodiesel Ford truck, run his ranch on solar power and grow his own food - without forsaking essential goods such as Wi-Fi, subwoofers and toilet paper.

“In writing this book, I didn’t just want to preach to the converted,” Fine said in a recent interview with Sustainable Life. “I wanted to reach folks who care about the environment, but who also drive minivans and aren’t ready to give up their creature comforts. I wanted to show them that if this guy can do it, anyone can.”
(15 April 2008)

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