As I walk along the lanes heading westwards away from Bradford I recall a tale Jane Laurie told last night. She and Liz had both been at Greenham Common and Jane describes a special moment…
Several thousand women were holding hands all around the fenced off site, gently pushing at the fence. Every so often a police officer would walk past and ask them to stop doing that.
“Of course, officer” they would say, and wait until he was out of sight before resuming the gentle pressure. Then the fence simply fell down under the light pressure exerted by so many people each doing a little bit.
A heart warming testimony to what is possible when everyone realises something needs doing and are prepared to do just a little towards it. Who would have thought a circle of women holding hands could have brought down a high security fence, without violence, without doing anything other than a little gesture in the right direction. Apply that principle to the task ahead of us now to address climate change, to save and put to good use our remaining resources, and to ensure there is enough of everything to go round, and we‘re doing it…every single thing you do with the intention of saving resources, of working with nature, is making a difference; never doubt that for a second.
In the Cottage Cooperative Cafe, Liz and I meet Fay, Jamie’s neighbour in Bathford, who is amazed to hear that 70 people came to support the community garden open day. She is also interested to hear what I am doing and talks of the moneyless walks the Buddhist monks undertake. I tell her I have heard tell of them, and she says maybe I’ll meet one. A couple of hours later as I am walking along, I receive a text message from ordained Buddhist, Lokabandhu!
Well, amazing how we are given advance notice of things sometimes. I have known Lokabandhu of the Buddhafield team (http://www.buddhafield.com/) for several years, first met him when he was leading a silent walking meditation from Reading to Stonehenge, a ten day walk along the Ridgeway. A group of maybe fifteen of us walked in silence each day, camping by night, cooking for each other in turn, and having good discussions around the camp fire each evening. I did it in my flip flops, of course! People didn’t think it was possible then either but I was the only member of the group to make our destination without blisters; important learning that. I have much to thank Lokabandhu for, and now he is contacting me to offer accommodation at the Buddhist Centre (http://www.glastonbury-pilgrim.co.uk/buddhism.php) in Glastonbury when I arrive there in a couple of days.
Today’s walk starts out along the Avon, past the Tythe barn, and then along the canal to Avoncliff, I see lots of people, very different from my earlier walks along tow paths all alone. I soon leave the holiday walkers behind though as I take to the lanes and head west to Radford. It rains, that drizzly persistent type, but there is an definitely synchronicity in the air today; every time I stop, in a church yard, to open out my map to see the next bit of my route, the rain stops and allows me to refold my map, replace it in my map bag, and refasten and adjust my mac, before starting up again.
I arrive in Radford exactly at the time I expected, 5pm, and make my way through Radford Mill farm looking for Mark Boyle’s caravan. The Moneyless Man (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2010/jun/02/mark-boyle-moneyless-man-food-for-free) has offered me his hospitality tonight even though he is key note speaker at the off grid Sunrise Festival this weekend, and won’t be here. He has told me to ask anyone to point me to his caravan, but for a while I walk without seeing a soul, am about to give up and ask if the local pub have accommodation when Josh and Nim the lurcher turn up and are able to show me the way. It seems that the community here is not going to be continuing, for the landowner and the people come to form the community are not able to find enough common ground on which to build, which seems a shame.
I wonder, not for the first time, what it is about the owning of large amounts of money and/or land that makes it so difficult for people to let go and allow others to share in the decision making of how the resource can be put to best use for the benefit of all. Maybe it is about time we accept the fact that the people holding the resources that will make a difference to us all and to our planet are in fact incredibly insecure and deeply afraid of being without and that perhaps it is not only those disadvantaged by lack of money and land that sometimes require a lot of listening to and helping to work through the traumas of a difficult childhood, or of ancestry, but sometimes the very wealthy too.
In Mark’s caravan, amongst books on how to live simply, and one Bristol woman’s account of spending a year living on a pound a day, are copies of “The Land” (who as a matter of principle do not have a website) the excellent journal about land ownership in the UK. Alongside the inspiring tale of the success of the Lammas project, who have finally been given planning permission, is a sobering article explaining that unlike in most countries in the world, we in Britain have no easy access to the land registry, the document that should list who owns all the land in the country, and that not all of it is even registered. With government selling off huge tracts of its land it seems crucial we start to map all the landowners. How else can we be sure there is growing land for everyone and that no large stretches of land are being devoted to making profit for individuals whilst others are crying out for land on which to grow food. If you would like to see the results of The Land’s recent reader’s competition to help map the land in our country go to “Map your Local Landowners” in their next edition, due out in the Winter.
I am delighted that the”everyone doing a little” story at the beginning of my day is equally relevant to the mapping the land project I end the day finding out about. It really isn’t money that makes the world go round, don’t you believe it for a minute. It’s people’s generosity of spirit, willingness to see the value of putting their integrity before their comfort, and their coming together to make the changes they want to see…
And the question perhaps for each of us to ask is “What stands between me and making that choice?”