In the last few weeks, a number of different pieces of reading and listening have come across my workshop table and I thought it might be interesting for some of you if I put them all together here in one post.
I make no effort to hide my green leanings. I’m pro-bio/organic, super pro-recycling, pro-energy saving, pro-public transport and on top of that a socialist (believe me American friends, in Brussels this is not a dirty word!) I try not to go about these things all the time because that gets boring, even for those of you of the same motivations. However, a few thought knocking around in my head recently were consolidated when I started reading Naomi Klein’s new book This Changes Everything. I’ve heard only good things about Ms Klein’s writing for a while now and I can’t believe it’s taken me quite so long to pick up one of her books! She writes of climate change and how we led ourselves into our current disastrous situation. I’m only 50 pages into the book yet, but I’m terrified… The reviews say that the book contains a positive message, so I read with hope.
This Changes Everything brought together many ideas that had taken root when I came across this Ted Talk by writer and activist Paul Gilding.
Gilding describes the conflict between our demand on the earth’s resources, and the earth’s ability to produce said resources. It’s frightening stuff to hear, but in the end of the short talk, he delivers a message of hope. Of potential and possibility for those of us brave enough to take on the challenge of a earth of little resources. Part of me is already plotting my participation in a different world, should a crisis arise in my lifetime.
Part of my plotting includes building a self-sufficiency garden. The Belgian sent me this article (in French) last week about Joseph and his micro-garden. Joseph produces 300kg of veg for his own consumption, near Rouen in France. I’ve tried looking for allotments in Brussels, but shared community gardens are the preference here. Everyone contributes to the work, to share the harvest of whatever plants are decided by the group. I’m a bit too picky in terms of my diet to share my garden with a lot of other people. For example, I’m not so interested in growing fruit, but any green veg has a welcome place on my table! So for me the solution is to find a space for my own garden, where I can decide myself what to plant and any excess I can share with friends. I’ll have to be patient on that one – our apartment is a beautiful example of 1920’s Brussels architecture, but unfortunately we don’t have even a small terrace here. We stayed with friends in Italy at the start of the month and their parents have a whole acre of allotment. Tomatoes, courgettes, cucumbers, melons, and more tomatoes. I was green with jealousy! (See what I did there?! Woka woka!!)
Gardens feature in some reading I came across about Victory Gardens in the US and Europe during WWI and WWII. Countries at war are far more willing to accept radical ideas than those in at state of “peace”. The idea was that fruit and veg were planted in private residences and public gardens, and were intended for public consumption. They engendered a shared responsibility and a shared ownership of the nation’s ability to feed itself. The beautiful idea that everybody should have access to fresh fruit and veg, and that it wasn’t necessary to transport food great distances to feed the country. I love it!
Although Victory Gardens are a thing of 20th century wartime west, there are a number of current initiatives that address not only food production and distribution, but also food waste. We all know of the few pieces of cheese that we never got around to eating and are now too green at the back of the fridge, or the leftover yogurt that is way past it’s sell by, hiding behind a carton of milk. But the Guardian published an article on the depth of food waste in the west, and it’s predictable, but no less shocking because of that. Have a read if you’re brave enough…
On a more positive note, in the spirit of recycling and reuse, myself and The Belgian will take part in the Flagey’broc (brocante) on 13 September. We have a huge collection of crockery built up since our wedding and it’s time to say goodbye. We’ll be somewhere on Malibran, so keep an eye out for us!
Our lovely Bazaar Creative Sundays will be back on track shortly, with the first meet up proposed for Sunday 6 Sept. I’ll send out an email shortly with full details, so if you’re not on the mailing list, drop me a line and I’ll send you details!
Looking forward to seeing some of you real soon!