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Archive for the ‘healthy life’ Category

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

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Tradition vs Freedom?

In crafts, folk art, freedom, good life, healthy life, people, traditions, travel on June 2, 2013 at 20:06

Local customs, costumes, crafts, foods… It’s all seems to melt gradually into some new globalised uniformity. In a way, this is a sad picture, a loss of our beautiful diversity. Western people often feel touched looking at tribal portraits, especially of children, in exotic attires.  But what these people from distant lands would prefer themselves, given choise? Modern living with its salaries, doctors, schools, pensions, benefits, equality and human rights or posing for tourists for a few coins? Is wearing those heavy earring painful? Did that beautiful bride choose her future husband herself? How old is she? How well is she educated? Do we have to stay in a fantasy land? Why so many people are migrating to cities and leaving traditional way of life behind?

 

The solution to the loss of traditional cultures seems to lay in our free will to explore them and carry their achievements into the future. Lets enjoy the color and sound, lets experiment without being afraid of onlookers. Lets celebrate free creative life. Nobody should ever try to force anybody into the past. Rather we should help to grow a free and equal for all future – firmly rooted in the best from our past.

Harmful foods

In cooking, ethics, good life, healthy life, organic, religion, shopping, traditions on February 4, 2013 at 11:03

This is weird. This is wrong. Some people think (without any scientific evidence) that some foods will harm them. Contaminated burger is found and there are public apologies on the news, etc. Meanwhile our ordinary food is full of sugars and unnecessary additives, some of which are proven to be harmful.  That’s not worth mentioning by some reason. ..

Good exercise

In garden, gardening, healthy life on January 30, 2013 at 18:45

I used to go to the gym. I used to go to spinning and aerobics.  Energy, time and money were spent but something was missing. Now I do some gardening instead and it feels absolutely great to get my exercise (for free),  to learn something new and also to see a real fruit of the effort. ..

Health service

In healthy life on October 5, 2011 at 12:51

While I’m still here…  I’ve just seen somebody from America saying on YouTube that looking at British NHS bill he sought that half of the country was disabled. I think when the QUALITY of the health service depends on a persons occupation is WRONG. Its so unfare. Why, say, a lawyer should enjoy better health service than a gardener, if both like they jobs, and work hard? The size of somebodies salary is not always a good indication of his or her contribution to the society, efforts to realise one’s capabilities, etc. This is why a good quality free health service for everyone is a must for any civilized country.

Wild Food in September: Himalayan Balsam and Cherry Laurel fruit

In cooking, eco-friendly, healthy life, organic, wild nature on September 27, 2009 at 06:29

Both invasive (but beautiful) plants are abundant by the river where I live (Wales). Cherry trees have plenty of fruit, and the balsam has flowers and seeds on different stages of ripening at the same time. After reading the articles here and there, I collected some wild food (under surprised glances from some locals) and made cherry laurel and Himalayan balm petals jam (I added to it a little bit of orange juice and plenty of brown sugar). I had to do quite a lot of skimming. Now I am very happy with the jam, its dark (apart from little bits of chopped pink petals) and doesn’t taste too sweet, in fact it reminds me of true cherry jam cooked with pits (mine one was without pits). We don’t eat much jam at all, so I made just a little, mostly to use later as a middle layer in cakes. As for Balsam seeds I found them very tasty, sort of nut-like, but they don’t need shelling. I hope to collect more before the winter. Happy foraging!

Toxic fumes

In eco-friendly, good life, healthy life, kids, moral issues on May 1, 2009 at 10:22

If you smell something, it means there are some particles or droplets in the air. We inhale them.

Its good that smoking doesn’t regarded as harmless anymore. Yet its difficult to avoid the second hand smoke. Very often here in Newtown, when I’m at the playground with my kids, I can see a mother and a father with a pram coming, sitting on the bench and… starting smoking. Or it rains cats and dogs, we are waiting at a tiny bus shelter and suddenly a person next to us is starting smoking… Its not so much the government to blame but the people who doesn’t care if they cause discomfort (headaches, coughs, etc) or even are harming others health.

And its not just cigarette smoke. I remember starting to have a terrible headache several times when somebody next to me obviously used lost of synthetic perfume in public transport or gym. Its probably just as harmful. And all this room-fresheners, tumble-dryer additives etc.

Anyway, its such a joy to create an unique smell with natural essential oils instead of buying something with ingredients totally unknown to you. And there are plenty of books with recipes for this in libraries.

School blues

In healthy life, kids, time, traditions on December 12, 2008 at 12:10

I had a happy childhood. Of course I hated or laughed at all that communist staff but I was so lucky with teachers at school and plenty of friends. I hope my kids will remember their school years with happiness and warmth too.

I started school at eight and this didn’t stop me (or any of my friends in Russia) from getting to universities and colleges we liked. I’ve been shocked when at the time my kids were something like 3.5 or 4.5 a nearby school head teacher knocked on our door and said its time for my little ones to go to their Nursery (just for a couple of hours first). As I didn’t have any friends in this country, nobody for my kids to play with, and I wanted to do more art at home, I decided, OK, lets do it. It wasn’t easy for my son to fit in at first. Once when he didn’t want to get inside after a play time, a teacher grabbed and pulled him and he, scarred, baited her in the arm. Needless to say we received a very angry letter from school, got really terrified and had to apologise.

We and kids started to have colds continuously. And little ones started getting head lice. My husband and me we haven’t had them at schools – full stop. My mother-in-law didn’t had this problem in Britain, same my mother in Russia. Even in my grandmother times, during famine and incredible poverty of 1920s on the boundary of Russia, Ukraine and Belorussia, they didn’t had much of this head lice issue. So why its so bad in modern British and Welsh schools? Well it either 1) parents don’t care for the welfare of their kids so much now; or 2) headlice got more resistant to treatment; or 3) kids are starting school too early when they can’t understand that they shouldn’t touch each other heads; or 4) they encouraged to sit on the floor rather than at desks as we did, and that helps little insects spread; or combination of these.

In Russia kids haven’t been allowed to walk (almost everybody walked, of course) in school wearing outdoor shoes. You had to have a pair of clean ones to change. NOT HERE. All that dogs, birds, rabbits, cats droppings on the way end up in the classroom… Where everybody sits on the floor. Brrr…

There is a VERY STRANGE attitude to sweets in school. They are encouraged! Its your birthday – bring sweets for everybody, you have been good at studying – get a sweet. School parties of course only have sweets and cakes to eat. No surprise, the life expectancy is falling.

When we decided to move to Wales, people were saying how better the schools there are. We were delighted to here about it. What a disappointment! Our children had been doing joint writing for about a year, but here they have been FORBIDDEN to do this. Only typing (I can’t TYPE letters at all!). They had started a foreign language (French) but now have to forget about this because they are learning a little bit of Welsh (why not have both?). They also had to go back to reading very simple books again. At least now they have a free swimming lesson a week (but my daughter said they DON’T HAVE P.E. IN WINTER). My husband can’t forget his football at school in any weather, and I quite enjoyed skiing for 2 hours a week through winter wonderland in the park next to the school (the park is long gone under some apartment blocks in Moscow, but that’s another story). So they start early but they exercise less… Here is a good recipe for childhood obesity. Plus school meals. In England kids actually had some organic food for their dinners. Not here – and that’s for the same price. And some form of potatoes almost every day.

Two more things make me really sad: encouragement of football and pop / rock music culture. When I was at school we were told to strive for the best. If its music, it should be quality music. We don’t listen to much pop or rock at home. It’s not OUR culture. Now my kids are preparing for their Christmas concert and they have to pretend TO BE ROCK OR POP STARS. Something called X-factor? I have no slightest idea what it is (I only know X-files :). In England we had to choose if we want to send the kids to school discos or not. Here in Wales they are hold in SCHOOL TIME. And foolball. We don’t watch sport. All we see is drunken and swearing supporters we have to share trains with. Why our kids should be pushed towards that?

Sorry for some bitterness. Of course there are lots of positive things. Religious education has been good so far (I haven’t had any in my time). Kids had interesting trips to farms and theaters. There are quite a lot of male teachers (unlike when I was at school), and most teachers looks like clever and friendly people. And there are affordable music lessons for everyone. I sort of admire home education enthusiasts but I wouldn’t be able to do this. At least not alone. Anyway, hopefully, everything will be for the best.

Christmas Turkey

In computers, cooking, healthy life, organic, shopping, writing on December 5, 2008 at 11:36

Mrs Sad and Angry 🙂 is back: I wanted to buy a turkey in the Iceland shop. But found out they all are “ready basted” with E numbers. Thank you very much, eat your E-E-E yourself! Why can’t they have JUST TURKEY? They never have.

Also my browsers go mad when I’m trying to read other people’s blogs in Google Reader – I guess its because I’ve subscribed to so many of them. I do enjoy reading you, people out there!

I’m into publishing my old poetry on a Russian poetry site at the moment and surprisingly, there are some people who even like it! Amazing

Churches for sale and "karate kids" in Newtown

In car-free living, healthy life, kids, photography, religion on November 26, 2008 at 14:29

A sad picture from Newtown life: two of the nicest churches in town are empty and for sale – and they have been like this almost since we moved here a year ago. They are right in the centre of the town, near the bus and train stations. I think from time to time, that it would be great if an Orthodox community could buy one of them but I understand there is not much chance for that. I can’t get to the nearest Orthodox church two towns away because there is no public transport on Sunday mornings (ironically, for religious reasons, I guess).

Another problem for a car-free person possesses (surprise!) kids sport club. They joined a local karate club last spring. Karate is very popular in Newtown and I thought its good healthy exercise plus a chance to learn to protect themselves if needed. No, wrong. Its all about the color of the belt. Every so often I’m given a form to fill and expected to pay 18 pounds per child for “grading” (strangely, that procedure haven’t been explained to me when kids just joined). And for this continuous grading business (meaning belt changing) we have to travel to another town… On Sunday morning, of course! When I am trying to explain our situation to the trainers I usually meet one of these looks: cold, suspicious, judging, refusing to understand, separating me into “strange & alien” category. Oh, well… I seriously think about tennis club for kids now …

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