Last issue we asked people to send in their own Positive Irish News stories to win a copy of Siobhan McKenna’s new book The Lingerie Designer. Here is one of our winners.
By Suzi von Mensenkampff
The last 7 years have been an incredible journey for me which really kicked off when a friend gave me a present of Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. I had just set up my own business and was both excited and terrified.
He also introduced me to setting goals and affirmations and using visualization techniques (I was like his guinea pig). It was amazing how easily opportunities came my way and how I began to transform from a wine drinking, smoking, crazy working mum to a calm, happy, peaceful, optimistic, loving being.
I think Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle’s books provided me with huge inspiration, along with an incredible Yoga teacher with whom I learned meditation and mindfulness. But I guess they were my guides, and it was something that happened within me that really created the change that has transformed my life.
Reading Siobhan’s article has inspired me to take a leaf out of her book and become “even more diligent about my thoughts and visualization.” It also “reminded me to trust the Universe and stop trying to control the outcome.”
We need to hear lots more Siobhan McKenna stories. Although, I must say, I think there is a huge positive surge of optimism among people who are now beginning to look within themselves for inspiration and are creating changes in their lives. Look at the allotments cropping up everywhere and everyone growing veg, becoming more energy efficient, recycling materials and looking after this incredible island on which we live…at last!
There are days when I feel like I’ve won the Lotto of Life, and I thank the Universe every day. Even when things seem difficult or painful, I know that every cloud has a “silver lining”.
24 Hour Solar Power
While Americans celebrated U.S. history on the Fourth of July, a company in Spain celebrated an historic moment for the solar industry: Torresol’s 19.9 megawatt (MW) concentrating solar power plant became the first ever to generate uninterrupted electricity for 24 hours straight.
The plant uses a Power Tower design which features a field of 2,650 mirrors that concentrate sunlight onto a boiler in a central receiver tower. The plant also utilizes molten salt as a heat transfer fluid that allows it to generate electricity when there’s no sunlight. Recharge News reported on the milestone:
After commissioning in May, the plant was finally ready to operate at full-blast in late June and benefited from a particularly sunny stretch of weather, according to Diego Ramirez, director of production at Torresol. “The high performance of the installations coincided with several days of excellent solar radiation, which made it possible for the hot-salt storage tank to reach full capacity,” Ramirez explains.
Torresol says that the plant will provide electricity for about 20 hours each day on average, with numerous days in the summer seeing 24 hours of supply. How does that compare with a similar-sized photovoltaic plant? The 21.2 MW Solarpark Calaveron in Spain generates about 40 gigawatt hours (GWh) a year. This smaller 19.9 MW Power Tower Plant will generate about 110 GWh per year.
Go Wild, Stay Well
UK mental health charity Mind has always campaigned for greater understanding of mental health issues. Now, through an experimental new project, Dave Urwin is using the therapeutic benefits of nature to help people with mental health problems.
The Go Wild, Stay Well initiative is taking place across a variety of nature reserves in the Quantocks and Blackdown Hills. Urwin explains: “It is a collaboration with Somerset Wildlife Trust, and during each session an employee of theirs will take the participants for a walk around the reserve, explaining about the different species of flora and fauna they see.”
Urwin has also recently led the Walk on the Wild Side challenge; a fundraising activity that saw 5 participants complete a 30 mile walk on the Quantocks, with 11 more joining them at the halfway point. Through their combined efforts, the participants raised just over £4,000, an achievement that Urwin admits was both incredibly rewarding and empowering in light of his own past battles with depression.
“On the day there was a wonderful sense of camaraderie,” remembers Urwin, “everyone completed the challenge and the weather was kind to us. The walk was through stunning scenery, and allowed people from different walks of life to join together and share a powerful sense of achievement through a common goal.”
Mind also have a project entitled Grow Well, which is in partnership with the Langley House Trust, and enables people experiencing mental distress to take part in horticultural activities.”
The projects are examples of ecotherapy, where the therapeutic benefits of nature are used to help relieve anxiety. Project manager Dave Topham explains however that ecotherapy is, “just a posh way of saying, ‘Get out into the natural environment, do something physical and you’ll feel better about yourself.’ It’s not complicated, but it’s very effective.”
Law of Mother Earth
Bolivia is to become the first country in the world to give Nature comprehensive legal rights. Developed by grassroots social groups and agreed by politicians, the Law of Mother Earth recognises the rights of all living things, giving the natural world equal status to human beings.
Once fully approved, the legislation will provide the Earth with rights to: life and regeneration; biodiversity and freedom from genetic modification; pure water; clean air; naturally balanced systems; restoration from the effects of human activity; and freedom from contamination.
The legislation is based on broader principles of living in harmony with the Earth and prioritising the “collective good.” At its heart is an understanding that the Earth is sacred, which arises from the indigenous Andean worldview of ‘Pachamama’ (meaning Mother Earth) as a living being.
Bolivia’s government will be legally bound to prioritise the wellbeing of its citizens and the natural world by developing policies that promote sustainability and control industry. The economy must operate within the limits of nature and the country is to work towards energy and food sovereignty while adopting renewable energy technologies and increasing energy efficiency.
Following a change in Bolivia’s constitution in 2009, the law is part of a complete overhaul of the legal system. It represents a shift away from the western development model to a more holistic vision, based on the indigenous concept of Vivir Bien (to live well).
The proposal for the law states: “Living Well means adopting forms of consumption, behaviour and conduct that are not degrading to nature. It requires an ethical and spiritual relationship with life. Living Well proposes the complete fulfilment of life and collective happiness.”
The hidden economic value of the UK’s natural environment has been highlighted and quantified in a ‘groundbreaking’ new report. Nature is worth tens of billions of pounds a year in benefits to wellbeing in the UK, according to the first extensive financial assessment of the environment.
Our quality of life, health and economic prosperity are crucially dependent on our natural world, its different ecosystems and its biodiversity, according to the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (UK NEA).
Published on June 2nd by the UK government, the report provides “a new way of estimating our national wealth” and represents the first time any country in the world has quantified the economic, health and social benefits of its ecosystems in monetary terms.
500 experts in ecology, economics and social sciences calculated the value that habitats across the nation, from mountains to cities, moors to woodland and lakes to coastlines, add to the economy each year. They assessed the worth of “ecosystem services,” such as how the natural world supports the basic infrastructure of life, removes pollution from the air and provides cultural benefits through spaces for recreation or places that offer “an enhanced sense of spiritual wellbeing.”
Pollinators, such as bees, are worth £430m per year to British agriculture, while lakes, rivers and other wetlands provide £1.5bn of benefits to water quality. Living with a view of a green space creates £300 worth of health benefits per person per year.
These and other “non-market benefits” of nature have not previously been taken into account, the report states. Valuing them properly will enable better decision making in areas such as development, transport, agriculture and energy.
The Department of Food and Rural Affairs (Defa) said that the report strengthens the argument for protecting and enhancing the environment and will be used by the government to direct future policy.
Leaps of Faith
A UK-based performance company is showcasing the talents of young Colombians that have risen from the streets and forged a career in the arts thanks to a unique circus school.
Hailed as a groundbreaking social project, Circolombia returned to London’s Roundhouse theatre for a string of performances in April of this year, marking a promising year ahead for the Colombian circus troupe of 17–28 year-olds.
The second run of their show, Urban, was as raw and explosive as its 2010 premiere. Dare-devil stunts and incredible acrobatics were performed against a backdrop of Cali, Western Colombia, home to the company’s humble beginnings.
The idea for the performance came from the personal stories of each artist, says José Henry Caycedo Casierra. “It is a small showcase of the lives that each one of us has lived in the past – such as gang members, the madman of the ghetto or the recycler – which in some way are the spirit of the neighbourhood,” José explains.
Giving something back is a lesson woven into the fire and attitude of Urban, a message Circolombia hopes will go global.