Our spring issue is out now. Regular contributor and community catalyst Davie Philip explains why in order to experience true freedom beyond the ego, one must consider the freedom of all living beings, including the planet. Dive on in to find out more…
Our winter issue is out now. Regular contributor and community catalyst Davie Philip reflects on the present-day relevance of Aldous Huxley’s final novel, Island. Dive on in to find out more…
Our autumn issue is out now. Our regular contributor Davie Philip demonstrates that being ecological aware can increase our compassion and love for each other and the Earth. Dive on in to find out more…
Our summer issue is out now. Our regular contributor Davie Philip writes about thriving in difficult circumstances – dive on in!
Our spring issue is out now! Our regular contributor and sustainability correspondent Davie Philip shares his insights on we can make more environmentally conscious decisions together – Dive on in!
Sneak Peek. Beyond Unity: Embracing Symbiosis
Our Winter 2021/22 issue has gone to print. In this issue David Philip talks about the importance of observing nature in order to shape the future– dive on in for a sneak peek!
Four Noble Truths: A Buddhist Response to the Ecological Crisis
In our Autumn 2021 issue, our sustainability correspondent Davie Philip explored how Buddhist teachings can help us find our way towards planetary healing. Read his reflections below.
Transcending a Paradigm of Separation: Embracing An Ecological Worldview
In our Summer 2021 issue, Davie Philip shared some insights into how we can begin to embrace a more inclusive and sustainable worldview. We are in the process of moving from an ‘ego-system’ paradigm to an ‘ecosystem’ paradigm. Enjoy his words below.
Spring Issue 2016 Good Life 2.0: The Earth beneath our feet
By Davie Philip
In the ground beneath our feet, out of sight and out of mind, microscopic communities of bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes are working away providing vital functions upon which our very lives depend. The health of our soil, therefore, is key to the health of our plants, our food and, as we are now discovering, exposure to it has many other benefits for our wellbeing. It is likely that our disconnection from the living world is at the root of our present mental health crisis and many of the other challenges we face today. We all know that being in nature makes us feel good, and the health benefits of gardening, working or even just taking a walk on the land are becoming more apparent. Soil is alive; a teaspoon of it can contain billions of bacteria. There is increasing proof that contact with a specific strain of bacterium in the soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, makes us happier and smarter. This triggers the release of serotonin; reducing anxiety and making us feel more positive.
Some soil bacterium can also be helpful in preventing or treating diseases. Our future really does depend on healthy soil. With intensive agriculture and an increasing urban population, soil degradation is a serious problem. It takes approximately 500 years to replace an inch of topsoil lost to erosion. Half of the planet’s topsoil has disappeared in the last 150 years, and 10 million hectares of productive land is lost annually, the equivalent of 30 football pitches per minute.
If we want to counter the damage, we must begin by fostering awareness and nurturing a reconnection to our land. To reverse further degradation of soils we need to accelerate the shift towards more sustainable, regenerative agricultural models and increase participation in the stewardship of our land. Cultivate, the civil society organisation I work with, are the Irish partners in GROW, an EU-funded project setting out to empower citizens to become active guardians of our soil. Commercial organic growers, students, community gardeners and all sorts of growers will use sensors and other equipment to complete experiments and monitor and better understand their soil. They can then share their own data and learn from the results of the wider community. Increased availability of low-cost sensing technologies has opened up all sorts of new possibilities for collaborative data collection and sense making. GROW is a citizen observatory, where people of all ages and backgrounds can help with the monitoring of our soils at an EU-wide level, assisting organisations like the Met Office and policy makers in climate change adaptation and sustainable land use. As well as measuring soil quality, these engaged citizens will develop knowledge and practical skills to regenerate depleted soils. Do you have an allotment or own a small farm? Are you involved in a community or school garden? Do you want to develop your knowledge on soil and skills in growing food? Do you want to be part of a movement preserving soil for future generations? If the answer to any of these questions is yes then email firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.
davie Philip email@example.com is a community catalyst at Cultivate cultivate.ie and is based in Cloughjordan ecovillage, thevillage.ie. He is curating the Convergence festival in September 2017 on the topic of Citizen engaged, Community Led Transitions. To join the conversation email firstname.lastname@example.org
“In a world of change, the learners shall inherit the earth, while the learned shall find themselves perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists.”
~ Eric Hoffer
By Davie Philip
Innovation is a buzzword that is overused and increasingly misused. If we are to adapt to the challenges we face today we have to nurture a culture of innovation that is about more than developing a new app or just staying ahead of the competition. To have real impact in addressing the environmental, social or economic vulnerabilities confronting us, we need an approach to innovation that is collaborative, holistic, and has the potential for transformation.
Over the next thirty years, as we make a rapid transition to a low carbon society, we are likely to see more change and disturbance than at any other period in recorded human history. As the business educator Peter Drucker stressed, “the greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” In many ways it is our thinking and the way we learn as well as the environments, practices and processes that foster cooperation and creativity, that we have to innovate if we are to be resilient with the capacity to adapt to change.
System change and innovation at the scale required needs a mindset change. As George Bernard Shaw said, “progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” Recently Pope Francis has called for a “global ecological conversion”, emphasising that it is not enough for us to go through the motions of change – we need a cultural overhaul and a spiritual revolution. Dr. Otto Scharmer, a senior lecturer at MIT, believes that we need a monumental shift of consciousness, a transition from an outdated “ego-system” way of thinking, focused on self interest, to an “eco-system” awareness that focuses on the wellbeing of the whole.
There is incredible untapped energy in our communities waiting to be harnessed. I live in Cloughjordan ecovillage, a sustainability project that is an emerging example of what Scharmer calls, “a living ecosystem of innovation”. With Cultivate I’m based in WeCreate, the ecovillage’s green enterprise centre, which is part of a growing movement of innovation ‘hubs’ that are emerging globally. These physical spaces nurture a culture of mutual support that enable collaboration among different change makers and initiatives. The creative space along with the processes utilised to facilitate collaboration, self-organising and adaptation is what makes these ‘hubs’ really powerful transformational environments.
This year our focus at Cultivate is to host events and offer courses that accelerate community-led innovation that will serve society and the planet. Some examples of this include community supported agriculture, community owned energy, car-sharing schemes, co-housing projects, and online platforms to enable peer-to-peer sharing. What is central to these initiatives is that they are citizen-led, and help us develop more resilient, social-ecological systems that allow us and our communities to flourish.
Davie Philip is a group facilitator and trainer who manages the Community Resilience programme at Cultivate. Davie is collecting stories of transformational community-led projects; if you are involved in something in your area send him an e-mail. email@example.com