Lions Gate Cleared

Clearing of the Lions Gate garden, so we have a blank canvas for implementing our interactive permaculture space, is now complete. Many thank to Hutton and Read, and especially Scott, Lochlan and Jordan for their back-breaking assistance.

Huge thanks to Lochlan, Jordan and mostly Scott for clearing our space
Huge thanks to Lochlan, Jordan and mostly Scott for clearing our space
Sycamore with retained, removed shrubs for mulching
Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) with retained, removed shrubs for mulching

We’ve retained the uprooted shrubs for mulching, and now the design process moves onto path design with help from Lead Scotland (handily situated within Merchiston Campus) and Edinburgh Access Panel for advice on making a path accessible.

Work on the horizon includes; soil enrichment, landscaping, composting and water harvesting systems, white-washing walls and hopefully before christmas we can plant out prototype interactive guild we exhibited at Gardening Scotland in June.

Also, we’re about to order some tools so we can kick-start participation with volunteers.

Entertainment area - looking toward food forest
Entertainment area – looking toward food forest
Food forest from lean-to
Food forest from lean-to

Nature, Technology & Modern Life

C.G Jung
C.G Jung

Reading C.G. Yung on Nature, Technology & Modern Life. Wonderful text from which I will post quotes here.

“The word ‘matter’ remains a dry, inhuman and purely intellectual concept…How different was the former image of matter – the Great Mother – that could encompass and express the profound emotional meaning of the Great Mother.”

“Without my piece of earth, my life’s work would not have come into being.”

“Man…is a top animal exiled on a tiny speck of a planet in the Milky Way. That is the reason why he does not know himself; he is cosmically isolated. He can only state with certainty that he is no monkey, no bird, no fish, and no tree. But what he positively is, remains obscure.”

“We need to project ourselves into the things around us. My self is not confined to my body. It extends into all things around me. Without these things, I would not be myself; I would not be a human being. I would merely be a human ape, a primate.”

“Civilised man…is in danger of losing all contact with the world of instinct – a danger that is still further increased by his living an urban existence in what seems to be a purely man-made environment. This loss of instinct is largely responsible for the pathological condition of contemporary culture.”

“The dream is a hidden door into the innermost recesses of the soul, opening into that cosmic night…All consciousness separates, but in dreams we put on the likeness of that more universal, truer, more eternal man dwelling in the darkness of the eternal night. There he is still whole, and the whole is in him, indistinguishable from nature and bare of all egohood.”

“The dreaming function in mammals is approximately 150 000 000 years old.” (Anthony Stevens)

Lions Gate Progress

The Lions Gate Interactive Permaculture Garden has been donated a bench by the brother of a long-serving, now deceased, former Napier employee David W. Wright who taught for many years at Merchiston in the Department of Biological Sciences. I look forward to our interactive permaculture garden blossoming around this contemplative place to be.

Commemorative garden bench
Commemorative garden bench
David W. Wright plaque
David W. Wright plaque

Thanks to Iain Whitlock and Eric Munro from Edinburgh Napier Estates we now have two taps in the Lions Gate Garden. Big thank you to both. This has allowed me to keep the plants from our Gardening Scotland event alive, and will contribute to life flourishing in the coming garden.

Newly installed taps
Newly installed taps

Lastly, I’ve also now got my own keys so I can access the garden when I please without having to hassle security all the time.

Keys to the garden
Keys to the garden

UN Sustainable Development Goals

UN Sustainable Development Goals
UN Sustainable Development Goals

I’ve just signed the SDG Accord (as an individual) to advance the critical role that education has in delivering the SDGs and the value it brings to governments, business and wider society, and to make a commitment via my learning institution to deliver the goals.

All watched over by machines of loving grace

I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.

I like to think
(right now, please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.

I like to think
(it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.

Richard Brautigan

VKRF: Information for Action on Climate Change design meeting

On the 4th September I met in Edinburgh with Chris Warburton-Brown and Nigel White from the Permaculture Association to discuss the design of online resources for the VKRF funded project: Information for Action on Climate Change.

A particularly productive and warm-hearted design meeting that garnered agreement on key decisions concerning the project:

  • Regular Skype sessions on the first Thursday of every month at 11a.m.
  • Nigel to handle the development of the online system
  • Myself to provide UX experience, in the first instance wire-frames of the simplified card-based interface solutions and the broader detailed web pages
  • The need to employ a designer around December time
  • Employing the services of a marketing expert
  • A plan to focus efforts on developing one solution for each of the main climate change challenge areas:
    • Water
    • Soil
    • Plants
    • Food
    • Agro-ecology
    • Buildings
    • Energy
    • The economy
    • Social organising
    • Personal resilience
    • Changing world-views
    • Education

It’s an exciting project with great potential for follow-on funding, possibly via crowdsourcing.

Final Permaculture Design Course weekend #6

The final PDC weekend took place on the weekend of 5/6th of August 2017 at Garden Cottage, where our three sub-groups presented their designs.

Saturday 5th

First up was John and Morticia with their ‘Stirlingshire golf course permaculture boundary’. John managed to obtain footage of a drone flyover of their site! Morticia Skyped-in from home. A great project, excellently delivered.

After lunch we presented our ‘Lion’s Gate Interactive Permaculture Garden’ – which seemed to go down well too.

Lions Gate Mood board
Lions Gate Mood board

Katrina Dunlop’s Lion’s Gate design analysis (PDF)
Erik Biol’s Lions Gate three projects analysis (Word doc)
Lions Gate design elements (PDF)

Gordon Solway's community mind map
Gordon Solway’s community mind map

Sunday 6th

Graham cooked us all a personalised breakfast. Delicious start to the day.

After breakfast Paul delivered his and Conni’s ‘Guerrilla Gardening’ in Tottenham, North London. An inspiring and radical approach to permaculturing urban waste-ground.

We then had lunch and everyone gave a bit of themselves to the group. There were songs, stories, poems, limericks and games.

We then tied things up and said our goodbyes.

A wonderful experience with some truly fantastic people.

Permaculture Design Course #5

Saturday 24th June

After ride-share pick-ups in Edinburgh, and drop-offs at IKEA, we glided, excitedly along the sun-drenched, early quiet of the A68, alive with possibilities – to the Rhymers Cafe, Earlston, where the remainder of our perma-tribe greeted us with camaraderie and joy.

The weekend mostly involved travelling around the Scottish Borders in glorious sunshine visiting inspirational places.

At the Micro Hydro plant on Ettrick Water
At the micro-generation, Archimedes-screw hydro plant on Ettrick Water,
photo courtesy of Gayle Baird

Our first port of call was Philiphaugh Salmon Viewing Centre. Here we saw the rusting old water wheel, sat beside a gorgeous stream and pool, and we walked along a wildflower meadow flood plain to the locally developed hydro-electric, Archimedes screw turbine sitting astride Ettrick Water – a fine example of micro-generation that powers the saw mill and other local homes and businesses.

We then stopped at the local cafe for coffee and a delicious German Apple Cake before making our way to another inspirational permacultural site that Graham was involved in developing – Tweed Horizons by Newtown St Boswells.

Overgrown orchard at Tweed Horizons, Newton St Boswells
Overgrown orchard at Tweed Horizons, Newton St Boswells

In the overgrown orchard we picked walnuts and marvelled at the serene, beauty of the place. The project no longer runs and it was interesting and somewhat sad to see what happens when a permaculture site is no longer maintained. You can read about the project in it’s original form via the 1996 article, ‘Tweed Horizons: permaculture growing and living in the Scottish Borders’ in Permaculture Magazine. We also investigated the adjacent agroforestry project, again a vibrant intervention returned to the wild. The location of the site was idyllic, nestled into a hillside on the banks of the River Tweed opposite Dryburgh Abbey. I’m keen to investigate how this centre can be revitalised.

The last trip of the day was for a late lunch to Scott’s View, an astonishingly picturesque view of the Tweed Valley, where we mused the wonders of the day.

In the evening, five of us merrily camped outside Kelso.

Scott's View - Scottish Borders
Scott’s View – Scottish Borders

Sunday 25th June

A groggy start and meet-up at Rhymers Cafe before we headed to Tim Stead’s house.

Tim Stead's living room, photo courtesy of Gayle Baird
Tim Stead’s living room, photo courtesy of Gayle Baird

Tim Stead was a visionary wood sculptor whose influence is felt the world over. He died at 48, some years ago but his house and workshop are a living testament to the man. His widow Maggy made them available to us to view and so a big thanks is due to Graham and Nancy for making this awe-inspiring trip possible. It is difficult to put into words the elemental creativity of the place – every object and surface a masterpiece of organic design that breathed a sensual life. Everyone was awed by the experience. The place certainly affected me deeply, and I spent the remainder of the day in a beautiful, inspired, contemplative mood that will stay with me for many years to come.

Tim Stead's sun room, photo courtesy of Gayle Baird
Tim Stead’s sun room, photo courtesy of Gayle Baird

After a meandering, glorious, sunny, life-affirming drive back to Grahams, we had a wonderful, alfresco Sunday lunch and spent the remainder of the day harvesting strawberries and cherries and talking about water in terms of the permaculture view.

Tim Stead bedroom. photo courtesy of Gayle Baird
Tim Stead bedroom, photo courtesy of Gayle Baird
Tim Stead's house. photo courtesy of Gayle Baird
Tim Stead’s house, photo courtesy of Gayle Baird
Sunday lunch at Garden Cottage, photo courtesy of Gayle Baird
Sunday lunch at Garden Cottage, photo courtesy of Gayle Baird

VKRF Kick-off meeting

Grounds of the Hollybush Conservation Centre

An early start for the VKRF kick-off meeting in Leeds after last nights DIS event. I’m acting as UX designer on the project ‘Information for Action on Climate Change‘.

I was impressed by the grounds and the feel of the Permaculture Association’s HQ at the Hollybush Conservation Centre – a magical woodland, cafe, allotment and offices nestled beside the Leeds-Liverpool canal.

It was a busy day of collaboratively working out how we are going to deliver an engaging and inspiring online resource for people wanting to actively address climate change.

The group worked well together and managed to travel a lot of ground in a short space of time. Our intention, worked out by the end of the day, is to design a set of online cards (kind of like Trumps Cards) using the card interface as a simplified curation of the complex resources under the hood. We may also develop a physical manifestation of the cards too.