They’ve made it in Stroud

I2015-07-17 13.43.14t’s comforting when things you love are stable, and in Stroud it was mostly the things that hadn’t changed which caused a contented smile on my lips.

The shop Made in Stroud is still thriving (but with a few more awards), still selling locally made goods and making positive influences everyday.

The Stroud Valley’s Project is still promoting conservation and offering educational courses. They recently ran a scything workshop after seeing it done wrong on Poldark! Scything is less damaging to the environment than mowing and also helps you to easily leave rare species. The day I visited they were about to run a bat ecology course and head out with bat detectors. 2015-07-17 14.23.11

Those creating positive change in Stroud had a higher average age than people I met in other towns, and had been in the town for longer. As Julie, the fundraising manager for Stroud Valleys Project says, “Who would want to move once you’ve landed here?” The town has a more stable, developed feel to the community than other places I visit. In the Stroud Valley’s Project office they have a reciprocal arrangement for work or rent with the Car Club and Transition Stroud. Transition Stroud have been running open eco-home event and open garden tours with about 1000 house visits. A new addition by Transition Stroud at the back of a closed pub is a pop-up “rain garden” to make efficient use of rainwater runoff from roofs. So simple it makes you wonder why on earth we normally pipe it all down the drain.

Stroud Against the Cuts has had a great turnout at its events and Stroud Co has become a thriving hub for selling home grown food surplus.

It feels like there are lots of people steadily making improvements in Stroud and the cumulative effect of that over many years is to have made a very special place and a very special community.

 

 

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The Nuttery

The Nuttery at The National Trust’s Washington Old Hall south of Gateshead was a fantastic discovery that brightened my day. Amongst the nut orchard are wildflowers, bee hives, a pond, education projects and wonderful people. Amazingly the garden and Nuttery are free to visit, so if you are anywhere nearby it’s a great place to restore your energy with peace and beauty. I spoke with the gardener Ellaine and some of the volunteers about the Nuttery and how they came to be involved.

Natural beekeeping

Phil Chandler AKA The Barefoot Beekeeper, is obsessed with bees. And with good reason, these amazing ceatures are the foundation of our foodchain, with our foods having been selected over millenia by the actions of bees.  What is Natural Beekeeping I asked him and why is it different from the more commercialised style?

In Natural Beekeeping the emphasis is on a respect for the bees and not interferring anymore than is necessary. Rather than taking all the honey and replacing it with a sugar solution, the beekeeper takes only the excess honey that is available and avoids disturbing the hive. Because bees create honey as a food for their babies it contains all the things that they need, so they are stronger if they are able to eat it. The hives are carefully contructed by bees to minimise the risk of airborne diseases, so avoiding opening the hice helps to allow the bees to control the environment inside.  You can learn more about natural beekeeping and visit the discussion forum at www.biobee.com.

If you are also interested in supporting the protection of bees, Phil is a founder of Friends of the Bees.

Latest climate change report released

The latest report from the IPCC (Intergovenmental Panel on Climate Change) is out.

The summary can be viewed here.

Key points raised are the threat to human life and the widespread consequences that will effect everyone on the planet. We are in this boat together, and it is sinking. The message is loud and clear that business as usual will kill us.

It is time for culture change not climate change.

If you are taking action, share your experiences with us. If you’d like to join with others to help you act we’d love to help. There are solutions everywhere we look. Our generation has a closing window of opportunity to protect life.