The house has paintings and art in every direction, coloured fabric, and kittens on the sofa. It’s exactly what I would have imagined a pilgrims house to look like, yet Steph tells me that all the art was done by her when she got back from her walk.
“It changed my life. I’d never done art before or written a book. It will change your life too you know, this walk.You should write a book.”
Up until this point I’d decided to observe, but hadn’t planned on those observations being for anyone but myself. The idea surprised me but sounded exciting.
“Sure. Great idea! I’ll have to work out how though.” I said smiling.
The local environmental magazine, Reconnect, read like an achievements list for the whole country. It had an amazing density of positive things, organisations and environmental events.
It was so quiet at the cottage, as I sat next to two, two-week old kittens being batted about by their mum as she cleaned them. At times the mum would just squash the kittens and ignores their mews as they struggled free. Before laptops, before fridges and cars, it must have been so quiet.
“There are some days where no cars go past at all. It’s been the perfect place to write the book.” Steph told me.
Since I’d been watching, more horses had gone past than cars.
“How did you talk to people about what you were doing?” I asked.
“I only gave information to people as they asked the question. I had to change how I spoke about things because a lot of people didn’t know about climate change or Transition so I gradually simplified and simplified the description. By the end I was saying: It’s about communities having fun.
“I want to change the cultural story that people have for their lives, to give them a vision that they have a choice.” Listening to the things Steph learnt during her walk really helped to set my attitude in a good direction.
Steph arranged for us to have a stall at Totnes library to discuss her book and The Buzz Tour with people.
An elderly lady came over to chat and before long was telling Steph about her family history. It was amazing how Steph had managed to bring out the stories so quickly. One of Steph’s friends came past and said he would join us on the first day of the walk. Then a lady who stopped to chat told me that her husband is a beekeeper and would be interested to come and talk to us.
“Great!” I said. “We’re hear for another hour, it’s would be lovely to meet him.”
Another lady worked with Schumacher College.
“A lot of projects at Schumacher College are totally in line with what you talk about and your walk. The work I do is in flow, in managing flow in landscapes which are flooded or in drought. And when you mentioned your walk that is the first thing that occurred to me, that she is like a river. The walk is like a river that flows through the landscape, to revive not just the landscape but the people you meet, to energise them. I’m so pleased to know you are doing this.”
“Aw, thank you!” I said.
A man with grey hair and a tweed waistcoat bounded up the library stairs and waited to speak to us.
“Hello! Do you keep bees?” I asked him. He smiled and nodded while I continued. “Are you the barefoot beekeeper?”
“I am. Phil Chandler.” He said shaking hands.
Phill is passionate about bees and natural beekeeping and has written several books about it. He agreed to do an interview with me later and he asked me about how I think society should be changed.
“How would you persuade someone to change the way they live?” he asked.
“Well, that’s the thing, I wouldn’t. I can’t come in from the outside and pretend I have the answers. I do want to change the system though and the system of choices. It’s not helpful to blame people for the choices this system makes appealing.” I start to feel like I’m being assessed and I’m not sure whether I’m doing well or not.
After a few more questions Phil asks “What’s your full name?”. I tell him, and he nods with a slight frown whilst writing something down.