You’re only born once. It is a life changing significant time for any family and power and control of that time has social consequences. We have made huge advances in reducing the mortality rate of mothers, but with the industrialisation of birth, the humanity and social significance is increasingly sidelined. It has become common language to describe the doctor as delivering a baby rather than the mother.
Independant midwives are currently illegal. They have been made so because the law ruled that you could not be a midwife without insurance, yet no insurer underwrites them. Meeting Annette from the East of England Midwives was an eye opening experience. The range of knowledge and wisdom that can be explored during your pregnancy and how other people can help you. It is a time when you appraise your life, and your future life. How do I want to live? How do I want to bring up my child? There is huge power in these questions. Many women discover a new motivation for self care when they know they are to create another life. Annette is passionate about helping other women and their giving them choices to be healthy during and after pregnancy.
For women to regain power over such a critical time in their lives they need access to choices and information. It is for women to decide how they wish to face this time, not for others to tell them. The voice of women has been muted in our patriarchal society, it can not remain so if we are to face and solve the challenges at hand.
Last week I did a two day Introduction to Permaculture course, and like everyone else I’ve met so far, LOVED IT! The wholesome and positive ideas that permaculture presents are a great way to build a stronger happier future and as you hear them, you find yourself going “well of course… yes that’s obvious… why didn’t I think that before!”. Permaculture comes from permanent agriculture and is a way of thinking and designing to live in a sustainable way and regenerate land and people.
Hannah Thorogood has been teaching permaculture for 10 years and for the last three years has been creating her home on land in Lincolnshire. The Inkpot was originally a conventionally pesticide sprayed rapeseed field which was then sown with one type of grass. In the years since Hannah and her family bought the land it has been transformed with a variety of grasses, wildflowers, new trees and vegetables. Building up the health of the land is a gradual process and it’s not finished yet.
We are working on a 20 year vision for the land and our decisions need to follow 7 generational thinking – it needs to be a ‘good’ decision for the next 7 generations.
When most governments only think a few years ahead permaculture is a radically different perspective. So what are the ethics of permaculture?
- Care for the Earth
- Care of people
- Setting limits to population and consumption – fair share
All sounds good so far, so what are the principles from which to work?
- Work with nature not against it
- The problem is the solution – those dandelions? Eat them.
- Make the least change for the greatest possible effect
- The yield of a system is limited by your imagination
- Everything gardens, every species has an effect on it’s environment. Need to weed and till the land? Chickens can do that.
Bringing a system back to balance requires slow small changes so sometimes you might just be observing and doing nothing. There is a hierarchy of intervention that permaculture describes, so you only move down the list if the first options do not work.
- Do nothing and observe
- Biological intervention using plants and animals
- Mechanical or physical intervention
- Chemical as a last resort
In permaculture everything comes back to soil, that’s the real wealth. Your account can be in the black as much as you like but everything come back to the soil.
When designing a system there are 12 design principles to help guide you, and each can be applied to a human system as well as a land one. Have a think through the implications for a community if they started to live their lives with these principles in mind, it’s a nice image.
- Use edges and value the marginal
- Observe and interact
- Use and value renewable resources and services
- Design from patterns to details (e.g. use the patterns of nature for guidance)
- Catch and store energy (I love the idea of how could we store the positive energy of people)
- Obtain a yeild
- Creatively use and respond to change
- Integrate rather than segregate
- Produce no waste
- Apply self regulation and accept feedback
- Use and value diversity
- Use small and slow solutions
As with any overall principles when you start to see them applied things get really interesting. A two day course has given me a taster, but the positive message of permaculture is one that I delight in seeing put into practice. It’s a journey not a destination and I look forward to meeting more people on this beautiful journey.