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Archive for the ‘eco-friendly’ Category

Building the Good New Town as a non-dogmatic community

In eco-friendly, good life on October 16, 2016 at 07:55

If the word eco-village is too loaded with images of low tech and countryside to be used for a nature- and future- friendly intentional community also in towns and cities, what could it be called? There is a therm for a nuclear family. Maybe there should be one for a Nuclear Community, as an alternative building block of any society? To put everything on the shoulders of a small present day family is being too harsh on people. Wait… Then if you say “I plan to build a Nuclear Community here” the residents will suspect you are planning to install a small nuclear power plant in their neighborhood…

Maybe it just has to be a “Good New Town“. I live in Newtown, Powys. Newtown is small yet it is the biggest town in Mid Wales. It is old. We all heard about “Good Old Days”, “Brave New World” and “The Good Life”… Some may also know about “Good Life Project” and “Good Sense Foundation”. – those are my influences for the name.

Whatever the name, I think for true happiness and healthy development this community should not be dogmatic.

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The future of agriculture in Wales

In eco-friendly, garden, good life, healthy life, Uncategorized on October 4, 2016 at 13:50

Here’s my contribution to the debate

Many small scale experiments for a more resilient future

Now that we have an opportunity to rethink the future of agriculture, land management and the life of rural communities in Wales, let people to experiment and to find out what will work. There is no need to play havoc with all of the rural economy at once but please allow innovation and initiative on a small scale, as long as there is no clear and obvious risk to people, animals and the environment. There must be people willing to experiment, creating all sorts of new businesses, eco-villages, homesteads and seasteads, various intentional communities. Give them a good fighting chance then take evidence-based decisions, not affected by fads or overrated opinions of the most vocal of lobbies. Even then, no government should ever place all eggs in the same basket (be this sheep farming or timber). Diversity in business models and lifestyles improves the resilience of any economy just like biodiversity helps ecosystems to survive changes and hard times.

 

alexfarmboysmallWhy the contribution is important

Presently there are lots of things going wrong with our lives. Our towns are surrounded by countryside but people may feel very distant from it. The farmland creates backdrop to their lives but is inaccessible due to lack of footpaths, public transport and human connection to the farming community, lack of internet – and lack of interest too. This is not a healthy relationship. The people are suffering, stuck to cities and towns with ridiculously small gardens and manicured parks. People need real nature and countryside for mental and physical health. People need fresh quality food, need connection to the land and to the community. So, we need our intelligence to develop a way of living in harmony with nature, surrounded by nature everywhere where we are. I am thinking in the direction of sustainable small scale farming, food forests, “garden cities”, decentralisation, edible landscapes, living roofs and walls, passive houses, forest farming, green burial sites, silvopasture, permaculture, aquaponics, real community gardens serving real communities, etc. – whatever works. I believe human activity and flourishing could be conducted within a healthy ecosystem made of us, our stuff, wide variety of plants and animals.

I am an artist and a geographer interested in creating a prototype semi-rural intentional community (an eco-village, an eco-block or an eco-neighborhood), an ongoing experiment for a better way of living, more sufficient and efficient, closer to Nature, working with the help from newest technology. An open lab of an honest, creative and compassionate life, strong friendly community, better health and well-being. Doing research into reintroducing wildlife, into more efficient food production and waste recycling systems, into automation, working on the new ways to get energy, new building methods, new educational systems, restoring useful agricultural and building practices from the past, and so on. People of various interests and abilities creating better lives for themselves, their friends, neighbours and families, ultimately, for the whole Earth. In the world obsessed with divisions this should be a place of honest enquiry, free of prejudices and any party rhetoric.

What we need is relaxing of planing permissions and other regulations for experimental / alternative communities, eco-villages, or self-built houses; we need land and we need grants. It is vitally important that public money won’t go to some smoke screen / green wash projects for clever bureaucrats but to real people building real future. There also should not be any exploitation of vulnerable and gullible “volunteers”, like in some modern social enterprises. People who will be living and working in those future communities are also the best candidates for building them.

The wast green spaces of Wales are treasures. We have a chance to make them also different to all other rural parts of the world in being a magnet for innovation and future-friendly experiment, brain-and skill- gain rather than drain, place for openness and cooperation, honest work for common good.

 

If you are interested in participating, please join the New Good Town project athttp://goodnewtown.uk/ and our Facebook page athttps://www.facebook.com/groups/goodnewtown/

by AlexandraCook on October 04, 2016 at 11:27AM

Allotment update

In about me, eco-friendly, garden, gardening, good life, сад, organic on December 12, 2013 at 12:35

Hopefully it is ready for the winter. I am not very experienced gardener but I love to experiment.  Lucerne and Alexanders are sown as green manure,  soil is covered by autumn leaves. 
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Young broccoli and cauliflower plants plus salad leaves are covered by glass jars,  soda plastic bottles and some bubble wrap on top. As people say it in Russia, “голь на выдумки хитра” / “poor are inventive”.

My autumn sown Scorzonera is doing well. Apparently its young leaves make tasty salad and it is slug proof!
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Some recent upcycled textiles

In art, color, crafts, eco-friendly, folk art, gypsy mermaid, jewellery, jewelry, mixed media, my artworks, textile, textile art on June 21, 2013 at 12:23

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Back at the market table

In about me, art, car-free living, children, crafts, folk art, freedom, garden, gardening, good life, jewellery, jewelry, kids, mixed media, my artworks, painting, photography, relationship, sales, shopping, sketch, textile art, Uncategorized on April 16, 2013 at 09:46

So I did it again: for the third financial year I am loosing money (something like 67-350-250 £ a year). This is despite parting with a number of paintings,  cards and prints.

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I am grateful to the people who bought the artwork from me but please be aware that it was local council,  public transport companies,  insurance companies, post offices and art supplies who really got your money: I had to pay them too.

Number of customers at the Market is falling. I only managed to cover my rent for December. The local library sent me a letter saying I have to pay 45 pounds if I dare to put prices on my paintings at my annual exhibition. I had it here for 2 years and earned 20 – 40 pounds each time…

I should admit that the thought of a big bonfire made of the paintings and sketches regulary burns in my mind. But I am not sure I ever can give up. All the money I have to spend on art are the leftovers from buying food and clothes for my family for which my husband gives me some money. I could’ve spent more money on him and kids. Perhaps I should have spent more time on them too.

All the housekeeping: washing, cooking, gardening, tidying and almost all shopping are my responsibilities which I have been partly ignoring for last few years in order to “be an artist”. And I am not even good at it. My conscience is not allowing me to charge sky-high for my artworks and anyway local people wouldn’t be able to pay any more. We haven’t got many millionaires in Newtown. I love doing art but the stress of trying to sell it and to please everyone is getting at me.

So I probably will only have a table on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Newtown Market, I also will exhibit some artworks at Galleries Live in Telford and Shrewsbury. I also will possibly participate in an evening art club at Pen Dinas Community Garden if it won’t eat too much time. But I really would like to claim at least some of my life back as my home, me, the family and the garden are not well attended at the moment. I used to read, write, exercise, do plein air trips and I want to try to go back to this.

Sorry for a bit of whining but I feel I should explain what’s going on – mostly for people who (I think) expect me to be something I am not.

Some thoughts on small towns’ centers decline

In 1990s, city, eco-friendly, good life, politics, powys, russian, shopping, traditions on March 24, 2013 at 08:52

About a year ago I went  to Norfolk and lost my gloves. It was bitterly cold, my hands always get cracked in these conditions so I went to several shops trying to buy new gloves or mittens. They look at me as they never heard about items of clothing like that.  Apparently they wouldn’t sell them till next winter…

Yesterday (deep wet show on the ground) I desperately needed new snow boots and, again, to my surprise, met the very surprised look. Fortunately for me a kind lady working in the shop went to storage and fetched some boots for me. Why there is attitude like that? It is often cold and still could snow in March and April, so why are they not interested in making money and helping people? I often feel that the economic trouble in this country is to some extent to do with apathy.

Many are worried about decline of Newtown  now. People don’t want to buy anything apart from bare necessities. Some blame supermarkets. But I am looking at my neighbours at the market and in the area – small business owners – and supermarkets have nothing to do with their struggle. Tesco don’t sell craft supplies, vine making supplies, handmade arts and crafts, etc. The lady who sells bread and eggs here always has customers despite all supermarkets sell similar food too. Supermarkets help people – me and the family, we wouldn’t survive without their cheep food, home deliveries and large variety of items. So don’t blame them, please. Don’t blame charity shops either – they actually help people on both ends. I lived through a crisis in Moscow in 90s without any charity shops and it was tough.

Because of insecurity people are very carefull about their shopping. And lots of shops are getting closed. But, think about that: who really needed 10 clothes shops in a little town? And mostly selling very similar items too. It is boom which was crazy – not bust. It is getting back to some normality now, in my opinion. People used to buy new items when the old ones were still perfectly OK and that was wrong. It is not realistic to hope for this situation to go on forever. It is not sustainable.

Rather than trying to compete with supermarkets and Internet, I think the town centers should become something completely different to survive. Shops and cafes should be truly unique. Rents should be lower. The council should also partly sponsor all sorts of local groups and clubs to have outlets here – making town centers the places where people came to socialize, not just shop. Benches to sit (protected from the rain) and more playgrounds would help too. More security against vandals, drunks and hooligans. After living in Moscow it surprised me how early everything shut down here – apart from pubs. Because of this town centers are not very nice place to be in the evenings. I don’t think this is right. Longer shop opening hours and the town not being completely dead on Sundays would bring more life on the streets. I think, it could be done, unless we all are just drowned in apathy…

 

I am CAR free and proud

In car-free living, drawing, print on March 17, 2012 at 17:32

Freedom

In car-free living, eco-friendly, good life, nature, people, pets and domestic animals, wild nature on December 31, 2011 at 16:41

Once when me and kids went to school, other kids told us that a little girl, the sister of one of the pupils, just has been hit by a landrower. At the same time there was this story on the news: “Boy killed as car mounts pavement. An 11-year-old boy has died after a car mounted a pavement and crashed into a group of pedestrians in Bristol. The female driver of the white Ford Focus left the scene of the incident in Eastfield Road, Westbury-on-Trym, leaving the boy trapped underneath. A man was treated for minor injuries, while three other children at the scene were not injured.”

I’m sure there are lots of stories like this, with the double horror of families loosing their loved ones and somebody accidentally becoming a murderer. Kids do behave silly and even experienced driver can loose the control sometime.

Once we’ve all been waiting on a bus stop when suddenly a puppy ran into the road and has been hit by a car.

One day an artists gave me a lift to a workshop along a small countryside road. All the road was covered by killed rabbits, hedgehogs and foxes. I didn’t really felt like admiring “scenic road” she has chosen for me.

 

I should admit, I do often dream how great it would be if I could afford a car and we all could go to exiting places and never fly again. A good friend of mine once told me that she was really happy that she had started driving: it gives such freedom! Yes, but at what price?

Deep in the Forest

In car-free living, children, kids, my artworks, pencil on March 10, 2010 at 16:53

Two kids found a little house in the woods. I like making artworks which look like pictures out of a lost book or movie. And its up to you to imagine the story!

Deep in the Forest: a fairytale by Alexandra Cook
Deep in the Forest: a fairytale by Alexandra Cook

Big freeze…

In about me, car-free living, good life, kids, photography, shopping, traditions, winter on January 8, 2010 at 07:23

We have got a bit of Moscow winter this year. It was about -12 C last night. Heating and gas are still OK, but poor boiler works as hard as it can. We are only partly double glazed, big windows & thin brick walls, but this wasn’t a problem before, and hopefully won’t be again for the next 30 years… Iceland food delivery is frozen to death but fortunately I’ve stock up enough supplies just before the New Year.

I am really enjoying the weather but a bit worried about my subtropical plants in the garden. I covered what I could with juniper branches and snow. It is cold but sunny at the moment but I haven’t uploaded the latest photos yet. Maybe I even venture sketching till the snow melts.

Happy kids went sledging after school first time in their life (!) a couple of days ago – I used to do it almost every day in winter as a child. Other kids came to us asking how to slide down properly. I Moscow we either used our fur coats, or pieces of cardboard boxes, water-soaked and then frozen. In my mom’s time, kids froze a layer of water in a bucket, took it out and slide on top of this.

Here is a collage of kids in the garden. We are such a dynamic family that its impossible to have everybody in the picture at the same time!

I found very annoying that it is difficult to find proper warm clothes (socks, tall snow boots, a coat) for my son. Girls are OK, there is a great choice of stuff. Warm trekking socks of kids sizes ALL have something pink on them… Why couldn’t it be green??? And what about the size 3 boots? Its scares me to see lots of man and boys wearing wellington boots in the weather like this instead of proper cosy winter boots like women. Its just not fair!

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