Digging for Victory- A post which somehow got lost within the labyrinth of my site! Having unearthed it, I decided I liked it enough to repost.
It is still relevant, in these years, perhaps increasingly so!
Have a read!
Digging for Victory- A post which somehow got lost within the labyrinth of my site! Having unearthed it, I decided I liked it enough to repost.
It is still relevant, in these years, perhaps increasingly so!
Have a read!
So, I have realised today, that it’s about time I started digging again. Digging properly, digging for me, and for the sake of future flowers/food.
I also need to begin writing again. Writing properly. Writing for me, and for any others who are interested, or happen to relate to any of the issues I find myself blogging about, over the months.
Months, in the past tense, being felt by their very own- memory hoarding piece of Neurological equipment, if you like- as though having passed, in the way of being ‘lost at sea’, and totally at the mercy of the waves.
See when I try to remember, in any kind of meaningful, contingent or chronological manner, the streetlight like glow, of the traumatic events which turned last year into a living nightmare for me, it isn’t exactly a straightforward process.
Perhaps with more time (admittedly, time truly can prove to be a fairly decent Nurse), those memories will begin to feel less raw. Then, perhaps, they could manage to form some kind of structure. Such as a pattern of rocks, washed up on a beach.
Until then, it would appear, my life and the words which seem to need writing, will have to crack on. In a positive, and productive way. So, let’s begin with the latest Dig for Victory style project!
Over March, and now that the so called ‘beast from the east’ and other snow related weather events, are seemingly hushed for now, I intend to try my luck at creating as much ‘garden’ and growing space, as possible, using only a very limited space, which is technically just a balcony.
I will have to think of inventive ways, to build what should look, feel, and hopefully, function as, a small garden, upon something which feels more like a windowsill, than an allotment, let’s face it.
Watch this space, I therefore add!
For there will be pictures of an on-going process, which hopefully can succeed, in turning a canvas of predominantly, grey emptiness, into a vibrant and green honey bee’s playground (sorry neighbours… Bees were here first, and the honey they make is well worth having to see more of them ‘buzzing around’).
Watering cans. I am going to need watering cans, and LOTS OF THEM! But first, it will probably make sense to reclaim the plant pots!
I have just left a kind of prison. I was never arrested, charged, tried or convicted. Yet still, for three months of my life, I lived, ‘imprisoned’. While I write this, I even ask myself: Do I mean this metaphorically? Initially, yes, I did. Then I reflect, on how I have lived, for those three small months.
Those months should have felt small, and they were (or will be) ‘small’, in the long run. In years to come, they will shrink down in significance, and the ‘footprint’ left by their boot, will be scaled into something similar to insignificance, by the great, green, giant months, which I will plant, and bring into full bloom, starting from today.
The day I moved out of that ‘homeless person’s temporary, interim accommodation’. A tower block, stretched like a club, into the sky. Not like the intricate, webbed branches of Trees, which seem to sing into the sky. No, the Tower Block pounds into the horizon like a ‘Thud’. The life within mine was stale.
Try comparing that to the life of an old Oak! Those Acorns are only part of the reason, that the Oak Tree harbours life, so much the opposite of stale. Try asking a Squirrel: “Oh, Squirrel, sir? Erm, I was wondering, who are you going to be feeding that nut to?”. To be frank, you might actually get more of an answer out of the Squirrel in your mind’s eye now, than you would get for an answer attempted by those empty, personless walls, around you in a Tower Block flat, or ‘holding cell’, while you wait to be rescued by the chance of a new home.
So no, I don’t mean ‘prison’, in the sense that I was literally behind bars. There is a darker, sadder, story behind my ending up in such a desperate place, though. I was a victim, yet in the (endless) months which followed the attack, I felt as though I were the one, being punished. Playing ‘prisoner’, while I await that trial, while I wait for the day some Crown Court Judge can somehow ‘lift’, from my shoulders, spirit and heart, that weight, the crushing weight, of dark cloud looming.
I am now free of the Tower Block ’emergency accommodation’. Now, I have a space, where I can begin to sleep again, live again, sing again, dance again, work again…
But most of all, now I have a place where I can GARDEN AGAIN!
The truth about the lost car keys, dawns upon me…In the flowerbed I was trying to uproot a stubborn Dandelion in, back in about June this year. I didn’t have a trowel to hand at the time, and obviously thought I’d improvise… and this is probably why I’ve not seen my car keys since around June!
Note to self- think it through, and next time, take a garden basket for actual garden tools (excluding self).
If you want to re-connect with your roots, re-acquaint yourself with nature, and generally remind yourself about what it means to live, to be human (and therefore crafty, inquisitive, ambitious), then I strongly recommend you take some time to just have a little dig.
Uproot some Dandelions, or a bit of your lawn. Expose the soil, and take in the roots. Stick your hand into the soil, gather some of it in your hands. Give it a squeeze, and crumble it between your fingers, allowing it to gently sprinkle back down into the ground.
Take in the smell of the Earth, the texture, the colour, the weight. It’s almost like feeling Earth’s pulse. Nurse the Earth, and in turn you will find, it nurses you right back.
Upturned soil reveals:
Rooted beneath the Earth’s ‘skin’, are the fibrous, nerve like ‘wirings’, which give rise to the flowers we see, sprouting deliciously, above the surface.
They are remarkably similar to the Synapses, which are our human brain’s own ‘system of shoots & roots’, if you like.
These fire and receive the neurotransmitters, which power our emotions, thoughts, memories, actions and reactions. You can certainly liken the roots under our own skull, to the ‘flowers’, of thought and of volition.
We are the Earth.
Currently, if the state of my allotment and garden were recognised by the medical profession, as being acceptable diagnostic tools for determining state of mind, and a certified means of determining a ‘healthy psychological bill of health’, then i’d make easy work for any kind of Psychiatrist, I imagine.
Over the past six months, there have been many different events, stresses, overgrown and domineering thoughts, which have accumulated without due intervention and control, in my mind, wrecked havoc on my mental health, and my ability to ‘see’ or ‘think’ clearly. I’m thankfully beginning to make progress, towards the goal of recovery in mental, and physical health, now.
Part of this journey towards recovering, has included suddenly being able to notice, and reflect on things again. This is both good and bad- it’s reassuring and hopeful to realise I must be moving away from a negative place, because I can suddenly see quite clearly, the areas of my life and the passions enjoyed through living, which have suffered neglect.
It’s daunting, to be able to look at the overgrowth, the ‘jungle’ left to grow wild, and the flower beds without flowers, which currently shape the canvas of my allotment. Yet at the same time, it is exciting and positive, when taking into account the ‘bigger picture’ this paints. The garden endeavors.
Hinting at the prospect of the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, nearing achievement of wellness, I have to concede, while humbling, and fairly worrying, the realisation there is a mess to address, left in the wake of my mind’s little rampage and attempt at self-destruction, surely surpasses the short term moment of panic, in this story.
Imagine if all of us busy, full time working, thinking, feeling, hearing, social networking, living, breathing, sleeping people in this world, were able to find the time and the resources to be able to ‘dig for victory’ for our mental and physical health. Then have the means to look back at the ever shifting landscape of a garden/outdoor space, which we create, sustain and maintain over a number of years.
It’s funny to wonder if this would put Psychiatrists, Doctors, Therapists, self-help books and more, out of a job!
Obviously, there are practical obstacles which get in the way of having time to tend to nature- work, and living in a flat/having no outdoor space, coming to mind first as being just a few of them. It’s all well and good knowing that ‘to spend time outdoors’, in ‘fresh air’ and with Radishes growing out of your fingernails, you’re so ‘in touch with nature’, as a means to recovering mentally and physically from illness, if you couldn’t even fit a plantpot on your windowsill, or hospital bed, for that matter, if you tried.
But there are ways– and you know what they say about ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’… Personally, I think that saying works out both ways around- where there is a way, there will be a will.
Having the will to work towards the way in the first place, feels more like an oppressive reminder, of just how hard it can be to regain that will/motivation/drive, when you’ve lost sight of what it even means, feels like, or represents.
‘Will’ or ‘willpower’. The idea that you might need this first, before you can make your way to progress, might serve only to make someone feel more powerless, more trapped.
‘Means’ or ‘way’. As it happens, even when there isn’t a will, there is still a way. Sometimes, we know of many such ‘ways’ already.
When I have found myself ‘lost’ in the petrifying stomach of Depression, or other such ‘adventures’ in mental illness, I am only too aware of WHAT I have to do, to reignite the wick which fires up my will.
Sometimes, we need a bit of help, when emerging, confused, scared, and downright vulnerable. As it happens, we do still know, deep within us, what ‘the way’ is. It’s never this straight forward (typically) though we understand.
The Revolution will be Grown.Walls of Woven Ivy Climb, Seed and Soil accosted; Replaced our captive ‘City’s’ Grey. A Greener Tomorrow, a brighter today!
Sheffield is a great city for green spaces, housing an eco-conscious community which fosters the creative and artistic. The social co-operative hubs and independent businesses which are budding and flourishing in the city are also very promising and positive in terms of forecasting the shape of the future to follow for Sheffield.
Sheffield would be the perfect candidate for showcasing the incredible benefits of an edible city, which encourages and nurtures urban food growing and sustainable spaces. Lets get onto this and pull our ideas together as a community to make it happen!
Upcycle– Old Doccers make for very jazzy new plantpots for the growth of Tulips, and many other things!
Take a look at some of the things we’ve achieved so far, and what we believe to be an assortment of treasures worth digging for…
Now that we have (finally) arrived into April again, the time for sowing and growing is defnitely becoming ripe.
Here are some things which like to be planted in April:
Potatoes in well-prepared (i.e. dig up the bed) soil
It is now also an ideal time to plant pot-grown fruit trees and bushes, e.g. Gooseberry/Raspberry/Blueberry bushes
Just remember keep an eye on them, because once they start producing the fruit, the birds aren’t exactly conservative about the amount of cherries to harvest and eat on your behalf!
For more in-depth info and advice: Grow Your Own- RHS- UK
For the bees and butterflies:
Foxgloves– They’re happy in part sun and shade. Bees and butterflies love them.
Hawthorns– These can grow 15-30 feet tall, so bear this in mind when planting out, because when it grows, it will cause shade (which can both good and bad, depending on what’s growing nearby)
Crocuses– These are gorgeous flowers anyway, and the Saffron pollen is irresistable to bees. It also has loads of health benefits as a herb, so you might even want to harvest some of it’s pollen for yourself!
Cerinthe– These are a personal favourite of mine, because they’re so rich in colour, and beautiful. Sow either straight out, or in seed trays indoors first, and then transplant the seedlings into the chosen flowerbed once they’re strong enough.
Buddleja (butterfly bush)- The bees and the butterflies both absolutely love this bush, and it smells absolutely gorgeous too. If you want to see a lot of butterflies this year, plant this out!
Basically, just go and buy yourself some seeds, mix and match whatever you want, and the advice about how to grow said seeds into bloom will be on the back of the packet anyway. This way, you can choose visually what kind of colours and shapes you want in your garden landscape for yourself, and all you need to do is sow them!
Let them grow 🙂
Sunflowers, Summer Red Cabbages, Artichokes and Little Gem Lettuces. All finding their way into the world from beneath the soil. Let Sunflowers live, and may the bees find ever more pollen to feast upon!
I’m really pleased with the height some of the Tulips have achieved for themselves: many of the bulbs have returned from the previous year, and some were planted new in about January this year. The April Showers have caused the window box Tulips, in particular, the thrive. They have grown outside from bulb, and been subject to some pretty challenging winds here in Sheffield. It seems to have been good for them, though!
I stumbled upon some writing about the emergence of a wonderful, off-grid, alternative and ultimately natural, human gatherings of a ‘Rainbow Family’ or ‘Rainbow Warriors’-Whichever you prefer to call the collective movement. Here is the low down:
‘In the isolation of the woods gather tribes of the miscellaneous and open-minded. From gays, punks, Christians, sectarians, nudists and Krishna followers, to Nomads and conspiracy theorists, like a vivid palate of paint; they meet at the annual Rainbow Gathering.
30,000 people attended the largest Rainbow Gathering in history, which took place in Washington State in a publicly-owned national forest. When this large, rainbow gatherings become something like a micro society; a utopian city that even has neighborhoods, where everyone is welcome.’ (Source:Rainbow gatherings)
“Some say we’re the largest non-organization of non-members in the world. We have no leaders, and no organization. To be honest, the Rainbow Family means different things to different people. I think it’s safe to say we’re into intentional community building, non-violence, and alternative lifestyles.
We also believe that Peace and Love are a great thing, and there isn’t enough of that in this world. Many of our traditions are based on Native American traditions, and we have a strong orientation to take care of the the Earth. We gather in the National Forests yearly to pray for peace on this planet.”
I am personally convinced that the way we live now, that is- humans in the modern society of Westernized culture in particular- is not only disharmonic, rasping and stressful. It is also dangerously out of tune with the way the human mind and body is programmed to survive and thrive. We are by nature social beings. We are by nature, part of nature itself; and this means we should by no means fall under the oppressive fallacy, that we are agents without choice, and we MUST work as essential slaves to generate profits for faceless organisations, day in, day out, without being free to choose otherwise, because money is the trap which keeps us dependent upon ‘earning a living’; in order to keep ourselves fed, sheltered, existing by record and name- and therefore with ‘identity’.
A person once shared some valuable insight with me, when I was going through a period of mental strain and precarious balancing between the state of breakdown, and the illusion of ‘sanity’ and ‘sound mind’. She told me that one of the reasons regular bouts of intense exercise, and outdoor venturing, was so fundamental to maintaining a healthy frame of mind, body and function, was because of how we are by nature and evolution, programmed and hardwired to respond to stress triggers. So as many know, stress causes an increase of Adrenaline pumping through the body, muscles and blood, because a stressor would naturally indicate it was time for ‘fight or flight’. A perfectly reasonable and effective reaction which has enabled humans to survive and evolve to their current state.
However, the way we live now (in the Western world) doesn’t usually necessitate fighting off predators, or fleeing for your life on a daily basis. The hardwired cognitive response to stressful and challenging situations, however; for example in the workplace, meeting deadlines, managing debt, bullying, discrimination and demoralizing conduct etc., is still well and truly active as it ever was before, and so despite the different nature of the stressor itself, the physiological response to the stress remains the same. Adrenaline levels surge, producing anxiety, panic, sweaty palms, raised heartbeat and general discomfort.
The problem is, all this discomfort would once have had a productive outlet; the fighting off of the stressor, or the sprint for your life, heightened sensitivity to detect the nearness of the threat. Now, the stress will often occur sitting in an office, getting a bollocking in a meeting at work, being stuck in traffic, being panicked by financial problems, debt, social and relationship conflicts, etc. What is the missing ingredient to the new type of stress and response?
It is the utilization of the excess adrenaline. Without burning it out, by exercise and exertion, or even just walking and dancing, the balance of these neurotransmitters in the brain (and therefore body) is not reset. This is one of the things which leads to stress and anxiety as a more Chronic condition nowadays, and a huge contributing factor to increased levels of mental health illness, physical illness, and distorted thinking which inevitable leads to the paranoid, unhappy, anxious and easily rattled social circumstances which make up societies which seem plagued by distrust, unease, violence and intolerance.
The modern world seems to me to be the beginning of the end of human social well-being, health and prosperity. It is nature and gatherings within nature, which we need to return to, in order to regain our understanding of what it is to be human, and what it feels like to live beyond the cage.
This brings me back to the main point of interest which triggered this post: Rainbow Family Gatherings, as one of many off-grid, eco friendly and nature driven alternatives to the crush of the way human societies have come to exist in an insidiously oppressive form.
Rainbow Warriors, and their open to everyone gatherings, offer a means of escaping the trap. Within the community of like-minded people that practice the ideals of peace, love, respect, harmony and freedom. Participants widely believe that the modern lifestyles and systems of government are unsustainable, exploitative, and out of harmony with the natural systems of the planet. The rainbow family is an expression of Utopian impulse with an added touch of bohemianism and hippy culture, which refer to mainstream society as “Babylon” and consciously express an alternative to consumerism, capitalism, and mass media. These gatherings happen annually all over the world, and have proven a durable phenomenon for over 40 years.
They wake up with the sun, and several sacred ceremonies begin to take place. There are discussion circles where all ideologies and beliefs coexist in harmony.
It is worth checking out more about alternative living technologies, communities and eco-conscious movements. Check out Rob Savoye’s (A Rainbow Focalizer) home page here for more information and resources about how to get involved:
Assorted gardening and allotment snippets!
Source: Digging for victory
Regeneration of Sheffield Ski village: plan is not to take up or hinder any efforts to restore the old ski village, or any additional leisure hub plans. This edible park/commnity grow space plan; seeks to assist with the revival, because we can upcycle a lot of the debris into flower/vegetable beds, plant trees, create art and sculptures, jazzy benches etc.
It’s also to be a family friendly park, and the plan has been put forward that we only need approx 700 sq metres to achieve the edible park, bearing in mind the entire ski village alltogether is approx. 10,000 sq metres! Please help me to use this opportunity to create something additional and positive from the devestating arson attack… This would be MUCH better than MORE HOUSES- which is a fate which could afflict the land if it is left much longer in dispute and stagnation due to problems with communication between SCC and the leaseholder of the land upon which the Ski Village once stood proud and untarnished…
Story so far:
Using my Facebook page; Dig for Victory- grow, revive, upcycle and thrive, I launced a campaign in March 2014, with the intention of gaining support and/or interest in the future of the old Ski Village derelict space.
I launched a crowdfunding page to help raise £2,000 to Create Sheffield Edible Park- a new community green space in which people could come together to help regenerate the soil from the arson attack ash, and upcycle the debris creatively, into new structures and growing spaces.
See the page here:
From the page post about this project:
“We’re raising money to Create Sheffield Edible Park growing space because Ski Village remains derelict and needs revival. Support this project on Yimby by…
Although fundraising target was never reached on this project via Just Giving, would anyone still be interested in continuing efforts towards the aim of utilizing and regenerating Sheffield Ski Village as the edible park/green space?
Please comment or message me to register your interest!”