Green Earth Awakening 2013: Update 4

And a final update on the programme for the Buddhafield Green Earth Awakening Camp 24—27 May 2013. The weather has been pretty lovely this month and we’re hoping that it’ll bring out the best in our fabulous site, which many of you will remember as being to host of our Festival for some years. Tickets still available on the GEA webpage, where you can see the full programme. Two last additions:

Q&A on Green Wood Building

With Rob Coventry.

Rocket and Wood gas Stoves: Design & Build Principles & Demos

Come and learn about the holy trinity of wood combustion: “time, turbulence and temperature”! We’ll be lighting up rocket and wood gas stoves and discussing the simple but ingenious principles they use to harness more heat from wood (or even generate electricity!). The workshop will also touch on DIY methods and materials.

A ‘stove anorak’, Jonathan Rouse, has spent the past 12 years working on cooking stove projects across Africa, Asia and Central America for charities, the UN and businesses. He also founded Wild Stoves in 2010.

Opening Ceremony

Bring something green to wear!

Green Earth Awakening 2013: Update 3

An update on the developing workshop programme for the Buddhafield Green Earth Awakening Camp 24—27 May 2013. Tickets still available on the event webpage.

Blacksmithing and Copper Bowl Making with the WindySmithy

“At the Windy Smithy we create a selection of individually hand crafted products in Devon, ranging from our own woodburning stoves, some handmade edge tools and decorative Ironwork to our unique Towavardo Travellers’ Wagons.

“I make log building tools, oak framing tools, bodgers tools, knives and bespoke tools including axes, drawknives, chisels, draw pins and a multitude of other tools and devices for the discerning house carpenter and logbuilder.

“I provide all that I can for a wide range of craftsmen, who have been having difficulty in finding the hand tool for the job, and I am happy to research a particular tool and to produce it, using either the traditional techniques, or modern methods, saving time and effort. I have travelled extensively in Scandinavia, learning relevant skills with a wide variety of toolsmiths, with many thanks to the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust for inspiration and support.

“Laminated blades, where the Tool Steel cutting edge is supported in a sandwich of softer mild steel, are often used in my tools, as the toughness of the surrounding material ideally complements the perfectly tempered edge steel. The layers are Forge Welded in the fire, creating a uniquely crafted tool.”

More on the Windy Smithy website.

Spoon Carving with Wayne’s Woods

Wayne’s workshops are popular at festivals across the country and include shave-horsing and pole lathing.

“I love the way that giving someone the chance to experience something that is closer to where I believe we need to be can have a massive influence on a person and help them to see life in a more sympathetic, realistic way. Skills such as shave-horsing, pole-lathing, weaving and carving help a person connect to something more primeval within them and also allow time for reflection within oneself. Spoon carving is amongst these empowering activities and needs to be promoted in as many ways as possible…”

Tinker’s Bubble

Talk on Living in Community and the History of Tinker’s Bubble, a low-impact community in Somerset with a strict principal to not use fossil fuels.

“Tinkers Bubble is a small woodland community which uses environmentally sound methods of working the land without fossil fuels.

“We have planning permission for self-built houses on the condition that we make a living from the land. We make our monetary incomes mainly through forestry, apple work and gardening. As a result we’re money poor but otherwise rich!

“We manage about 28 acres of douglas fir, larch, and mixed broadleaf woodland using horses, two person saws, and a wood-fired steam-powered sawmill.

“Our pastures, orchards, and gardens are organically certified, and no-dig methods are commonly used. We press apple juice for sale, grow most of our own vegetables, keep chickens and bees, and sell our produce at farmers markets. We make loads of jam, chutney, pickles, cider, and wine.

“We have solar powered 12v electricity, spring water on tap, and use compost toilets. We burn wood for cooking, heating, and for hot water in the bathhouse. We eat little meat (mostly game), and try to cater for all diets. Though some of us would consider ourselves to be spiritual, we have no shared spirituality. Most people wash their clothes by hand. Life is lived mostly outdoors, so it’s cold in the winter, but we live on the top of a steep hill, so there are plenty of chances to get warm! There’s loads of wildlife on site, particularly badgers, deer and ticks!”

More on

What is Ecodharma? An introduction to the Ecodharma centre by Alex Swain

The Eco-Dharma Centre is situated in a beautiful and wild part of the Catalan Pyrenees. Offering courses, events and retreats which support the realisation of our human potential and the development of an ecological consciousness honouring our mutual belonging within the web of life – drawing on the Buddhist Dharma and the emerging ecological paradigms of our time.

We offer courses and retreats that take place in a context of sustainable low-impact living, closely woven within the web of elemental nature. These meditation retreats, study seminars and training camps are intended to help people to empower themselves to make changes in themselves and the world consistent with a life-affirming vision.

We seek to develop practices which honour the inseparability of the transformation of the self and the world; to support the shift from a destructive industrial growth society to a life-affirming future; to contribute to the creation of a movement of renewal and resistance; to evolve spiritual practice where courageous compassion and a deepening realisation of our radical interconnectedness helps us to live in solidarity with life.

Introduction to Permaculture Design with Tim Potter

Tim has worked at the Earth Centre teaching Permaculture and sustainability and has a BSc in Countryside Management and Interpretive Design with an Emphasis on Sustainability.

Permaculture is a branch of ecological design, ecological engineering, and environmental design which develops sustainable architecture and self-maintained horticultural systems modelled from natural ecosystems.

The design principles which are the conceptual foundation of permaculture were derived from the science of systems ecology and study of pre-industrial examples of sustainable land use. Permaculture draws from several disciplines including organic farming, agroforestry, integrated farming, sustainable development, and applied ecology. Permaculture has been applied most commonly to the design of housing and landscaping, integrating techniques such as agroforestry, natural building, and rainwater harvesting within the context of permaculture design principles and theory.
Taken from the Wikipedia article.

Green Earth Awakening 2013: Update 2

An update on the programme for this year’s Green Earth Awakening Camp 24—27 May 2013. We’ve got a full team for the Buddhafield Café, but we’re still looking for Site Crew and Decor Crew.

Solar Power

The future is bright the future is solar! Solar Workshop and Discussion with Solar Energy Alliance Ltd. Practical system set up. Discussion on how a system is designed and installed. Workshops for adults and children.

Based in Lowestoft Solar Energy Alliance are Suppliers and installers of solar PV in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire regions.

We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy — sun, wind and tide. … I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.
Thomas A Edison, 1931 in conversation with Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone.

Spinning Workshop with Beetle Felt

Learn the ancient craft of spinning and make your own unique yarn using a drop spindle for use in knitting, crochet or weaving. With Dee Sayce; more information on the Beetle Felt website.

Join the Tuffeteer to Create an Eco-Friendly Tuffet!

With Joanna Vosper, create your own tuffet with The Travelling Tuffeteer. Eco-friendly and lightweight:

The “tuffet” — a wonderfully comfortable seat pad made entirely of woven wool. After in-depth research I discovered the secret of this wonderful experience of “bottom heaven”. It seems selfish to not share this comfort with friends and other like-minded people and so begins the creation of The Travelling Tuffeteer and the slogan “Bottom Heaven since 2011”. The tuffet is organic, water resistant due to the natural lanolin and is deliciously sheepy!!

Ethical Leather?

Ethical Aspirations and Coping with Consumption

For many, veganism is an ethical decision to protect animals from a gross manipulation. Having been vegan myself, it is a minefield of ethics; to manoeuvre oneself around the array of animal products so imperceptible in many everyday items. Photographic films and papers use gelatine made from the hides and bones of cows and pigs. Most wines and beers use fish swim bladder derivatives to improve clarity and remove impurities. A red food colouring known as carmine is made from ground beetles. Stearic acid made from animal fat is used in baked goods, beverages, car tyres and fireworks. Animal fats are also found in plastic bags, wood glue, bio fuels, shampoos, fabric softener and tooth paste.

Leather is a strong, water resistant material in high demand for use in shoes, bags, coats, hats and gloves. The leather industry is worth £593 billion a year in the UK and most leather brought into the UK and Europe comes from India, China and countries where no laws protect animal welfare. According to PETA, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals:

…In addition to the cattle, sheep, and other animals who are killed for leather in China, an estimated 2 million cats and dogs are killed for their skins each year.

Confined to wire cages in which they can barely move, these animals are routinely skinned alive and hacked apart, piece by piece, until they bleed to death. Many products made from the skins of dogs and cats are bought unknowingly by consumers because the products are often intentionally mislabelled and do not accurately indicate their origins.”

In India cows are revered as holy and thus protected by law in all but two states which forces the leather industry to operate illegally. Bribery and corruption allow a harmful practice to go unregulated. Mrs Ghandi, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment in 2000 claimed:

There is a huge amount of trafficking of cattle to both West Bengal and Kerala… I’ve seen 900 cows coming out of the wagon of a train, and 400 to 500 of them came out dead.

On the route to Kerala they don’t bother with trucks or trains: they tie them and beat them and take them on foot, 20,000 to 30,000 per day. [All Kerala’s slaughter houses are on the border.] Because they have walked and walked and walked the cattle have lost a lot of weight, so to increase the weight and the amount of money they will receive, the traffickers make them drink water laced with copper sulphate, which destroys their kidneys and makes it impossible for them to pass the water — so when they are weighed they have 15kg of water inside them and are in extreme agony.
How India’s Sacred Cows are Beaten, Abused and Poisoned to Make Leather for High Street Shops, Peter Popham, The Independent, 14 February 2000

So what are the alternatives? Pseudo–leather such as Naugahyde, Durabuck, NuSuede, and Hydrolyte have been created to satisfy the hide consumption but have not replaced the demand. Petro-chemical based materials will take 500 or more years to break down compared to the 25 to 40 years of leather.

Fish skins are now being offered as an ethical alternative to the leather industry. The skins of supposedly non endangered species, sourced sustainably, that would have been discarded as by-products from the food industry are being adapted into a reptilian style leather. The tanning of the fish skins are similar to the process used in the leather industry, minus the polluting effect of harmful chemicals used in hair removal and preservation such as aluminium, chromium sulphide and mercury.

This new leather has been adopted by the fashion industry and is bringing in the “eco” pound for its ethical credentials. The waste skins of salmon, trout, cod, wolf fish, Nile perch, pike-perch, tilapia and grass carp can be transformed into strong, lizard like clothing materials with a reduced environmental impact and the benefits of “recycling”.

This sounds like an ideal solution to the leather industry with no negative impacts, but it is important to consider that when a product becomes popular and industry backed, sooner or later an ethical intention will be pushed aside in favour of money. Fish skin leather is now made from a waste product, but its manufacture may encourage the farming of fish purely for their skins.

So how do we make a choice? We have to weigh up what is the least harmful now. Vegans may argue that any use of an animal product for our own benefit is causing ultimate harm to that creature. We need to curb our consumption of shoes, hats and bags. We need to reduce our waste of discarded materials that could be re used and re cycled. These are ethical aspirations we should work towards, but we need to focus on the here and now. Our consumption of leather is high and industry will continue to meet those demands without consideration of animal welfare. Pseudo-leather materials have been available for some time, but have never become a realistic competitor to animal based products. The use of fish skins have captured the fashion industry and could displace the abuse of farmed animals. While fish leather is making use of waste skins, the balance at present, tips in favour of this seemingly less damaging alternative. Should we put our efforts into cultivating an awareness of these alternatives to limit a destructive industry?

At Buddhafield’s Green Earth Awakening, a tanner and leather worker will be offering workshops on how to make and work with fish leather. The intention of this workshop is to promote a sense of self sufficiency necessary to curb our consumption and reliance on mass industry. For some, this may be limiting in reducing our impact on living beings and the use of leather in any form should be boycotted. For other’s this may serve as an intention to finding alternatives to the damaging industry that is feeding our high consumption here and now. For all of us, perhaps we can unite in recognising our aspirations towards a society whose consumption and desires do not take priority over the welfare of living beings.

Green Earth Awakening 2013: Update 1

Rosie Lancaster is workshop co-ordinator at Buddhafield’s Green Earth Awakening Camp 24-27 May 2013. Here’s the first in a series of programme updates.

Really Wild Forest School

Really Wild Forest School is based in Crediton, Devon. Their ethos; “your child experiences nature and the outdoor environment in a safe, secure and hands on way and is encouraged to investigate & explore and develop a lifelong love and understanding of the natural environment. Children learn to respect all living things in the hope that they will become future stewards of the Earth. Exploring, playing and learning using a range of activities is what Forest School is all about because children learn best from direct experience. Building a sense of independence, high self-esteem and team work are integral parts of Forest School.”

Emma Byrnes is the company director at Really Wild Forest School and is a qualified Forest School Leader. She graduated with an HND in Criminology in 2006. She is an experienced facilitator, Certified Hypnotherapist and Reiki Teacher and has a Diploma in Neuro Linguistic Programming.

Emma has worked with children for nearly 20 years and has always shared with them her love of nature. She is the proud mummy and step mother of three lovely girls aged 10, 9 and a few months old.

Buddhism as Ecology

The gate of the Dharma does not close behind us to secure us in a cloistered existence aloof from the turbulence and suffering of samsara, so much as it leads us out into a life of risk for the sake of all beings.
Joanna Macy

I first encountered Buddhism within the flapping canvas of a Buddhafield dome. My first meditations were amongst the damp mist of a frost tipped Devon field. The backdrop to my Buddhist practice has been England, outside, with the green and wind. This context brought me to question our alienation from the delicate play of atom affecting atom within a cooperative environment without name and species and institution. Buddhism has shaped my mental practice, and our current cultural climate has built my assertion that to move beyond an exhausted consumer society, intent on polluting planet and thought, we need the dharma; a philosophical tool to re-integrate a disembodied mind.


Rosie Lancaster, Workshop Co-ordinator at Buddhafield’s Green Earth Awakening

The western mind has, over time become separated from its origins, somehow autonomous from its environment. Sitting like a great head, without body and history, not relating to, but observing its linear relationships. A belief in a mind body duality existed from Plato to Descartes right up until the 19th century when existentialism broke the pedestal on which man had placed himself. Phenomenologist Merleau-Ponty went further to suggest the mind is encased within the body and all experience felt through that vehicle. Western philosophy has evolved towards a rejection of dualism and can be seen to align with certain aspects of eastern philosophies with an underlying oneness or interconnection of organisms.

Though many differences remain between the influences of western and eastern culture, Buddhism’s essential teachings take relevance in modern society as a paradigm shift emerges. We are recognising the damaging effect an affluent, contaminating society has had on its landscapes and inhabitants. The terms ‘green’ and ‘eco’ are marking a cultural move toward a sustainable relationship with the planet. But no amounts of biodegradable nappies are going to save the irrevocable damage caused to our finite resources. We need a revolution in mental processes. We need a break down of the damaging concept of ‘I,’ that enslaves us into craving more to the detriment of others. We need a radical transformation of how we view ourselves and our relationship to the planet.

Part of the fundamental teachings of the Buddha, along with impermanence and un-satisfactoriness, is the anaatman or ‘no self.’ This teaching defines us as a continually fluctuating system of processes; an interconnected web of effect and affect. By allowing the edges of what we perceive as ‘I’ to blur into an endless myriad of interconnected organisation, we cannot uphold a perception of an individual autonomous mind. By recognising our influences on our environment and the simultaneous influences our environment has on us, we can understand a duty to uphold an ethical way of being. This can be known as karma.

The notion of karma can be easily related to the principles of ecology; that all life is a complex interplay of cause and effect. Our karma, or our effect, will bounce on through the web of relationships that so delicately impress one another. Deep ecology and holistic science have grown from an understanding that all systems are comprised of sub systems and an exchange of information happens in a complex non-linear response. This is a step beyond the reductionist interpretation of nature associated with a ‘conventional’ western, scientific mind.

As the Mahayana Buddhist tradition states, we all have a ‘buddha’ nature’; a potential towards enlightenment. Our ignorance and delusion is strongly embedded, but if we cultivate enough self-conscious awareness to break through a rigid sense of identity, we can communally reach an enlightened state of existence. Mahayana is translated as ‘Great Vehicle,’ a means by which all sentient beings can attain enlightenment. One’s own spiritual journey is therefore intrinsically linked with liberation for all.

Find out more about the Green Earth Awakening Camp 2013.

Recommended Read: Wendy Johnson, The BP Oil Spill and the Undersea Realm of Impenetrable Darkness