In this sneak peek of a powerful article from our Spring 2019 issue, Davie Philip discusses how we can use new stories of hope and resilience to inspire ourselves to tackle the challenges facing our planet. To read the full article, pick up a copy of the magazine at your local stockist or subscribe here.
Voya got in touch with me recently offering me a free sample of one of their products so that I could review it. Free stuff is hard to turn down and it will inevitably make one want to say lovely things about it out of appreciation for the fact that you got a treat. However, I reluctantly stuck to my gut and emailed back asking if it was locally produced and checking out if there was any aspect of their range that I could see as a beneficial and positive in a bigger way than just, “Ooooh, free stuff!”
As it turns out, and to my sheer delight, Voya check every box I’d like to see checked in attempting to be somewhat socially aware about what products I buy. I may not always have the budget for products that check all the right boxes, but I like to know what my options are. “Send me the treats!”
Voya began as a seaweed baths business in Strandhill in Sligo. People who visited the baths often wanted to ‘take the experience home with them’, so the family-run company had to begin thinking about how they would do this and still maintain the integrity of the local business they were currently running.
“The challenge was significant, and was to be the germ for VOYA. We knew that conventional cosmetics use chemicals that could destroy the beneficial properties of our seaweed and also damage the environment. As a family we agreed that this was an unacceptable compromise and would go against all our instincts. Neil’s brother, Mark, tried to source genuinely organic seaweed products but found none. It soon became apparent that if we weren’t willing to compromise, we would have to go through with the long and demanding voyage towards creating a new type of cosmetic: the first genuinely organic seaweed-based cosmetic products in the world.”
They dry the seaweed naturally, using a method that keeps all of the important things in tact and have worked with natural cosmetic scientists, marine biologists and dermatologists to create their range.
I tried out their Cleanse & Mend cleanser, hydrating mask, Ritzy Spritzy toner and Me Time moisturiser, all packed into a handy, little, travel-sized kit. I threw it into my bag when going away to the gorgeous Bearhaven Lodge on the Beara Peninsula in the west of Ireland. (As a side note, one of the prettiest places I’ve ever stayed and two of the loveliest characters running the place.)
I’m not an expert beauty reviewer but I know my own skin. The products are lovely to use, smell great without having too strong a scent, and my skin looked every so subtly more ‘glowy’ and refreshed after just couple of days. I tend to change products pretty frequently but I consistently notice better results from organic products and Voya reinforced that further.
They recommend leaving the cleanser on for ten minutes and washing it off and as I’ve not used a cleanser that you had to do this with before, I asked them why, and if it was still necessary to use exfoliator or if somehow by leaving it on, was it doing the exfoliating?
“Basically when you leave it on it stimulates and tones the skin thanks to the unique hydrating powers of the algae extracts… that’s why they recommend leave it for a few minutes. And yes, you should still need an exfoliator but better if you use it twice per week instead of every day.”
What’s great about leaving something on for ten minutes is that you can run around doing other bits and pieces and feel like you’re multi-tasking. Lastly, and I’ve mentioned this before elsewhere, but my instincts are that local ingredients are probably the most beneficial for local skin, local weather etc. Nature so often provides us with what we need at the correct time and in the correct place. It’s a theory worth testing out with your beauty products as well as your diet. Speaking of diet – I’d also note that no skincare product will every fix everything if you’re not respecting your liver and your diet. Your liver has a huge impact on your skin and your skin is the biggest organ you have, so to take care of it fully, work from the inside out as well as the outside in.
Their products are priced at what I would consider the more expensive side of the spectrum, the ‘MeTime Moisturiser’ for example is €57, we don’t all have that to spend on a moisturiser. However, if this is the kind of money you spend on products, I’d definitely give it a go. Or try out their travel kit to see if it suits your skin. Even the teeny weeny sample I had went a long way, so it will last. My current ethos is the only reason you should be spending ‘big money’ on anything is if you can see why it’s expensive and you know you’re supporting something good. Big brands have big marketing budgets, so it’s a good idea to do your homework on the business carefully before buying in to the reviews written by the bloggers who got the free stuff. Products of any kind, from clothes, to pizzas to cosmetics, that are mass-produced with no real respect for the environment, and/or produced without consideration for how the chemicals affect the active ingredients contained in them are flying off the shelves for the same price and more. It’s costly to produce products locally and organically, but it’s better for all of us long-term. So If you want to spend sixty quid to spend on a moisturiser, I suggest trying one that’s considerate about our precious little world.
You don’t need this product to be happy or beautiful. You are both of those things already. Voya is simply a lovely option to know about.
PS. They also rescue baby seals.
The Chocolate Factory
The Chocolate Factory is a new creative community developing in the old Williams & Woods building on King’s Inn Street in Dublin.
The first concrete building in Dublin city is being rejuvenated to become a creative hub comprised of studio spaces for design, art, music, dance, photography and many other creative areas.
The ethos of the Chocolate Factory is a creative community where community is the centre of focus with everybody helping each other out. We are also focused on reusing and upcycling anything we can as part of the development and building work going on in the CF, and want to be as sustainable as possible in every aspect of the project.
Ireland’s first rooftop Urban Farm is being created on the roof of the building and aims to produce and educate people on various horticultural techniques and how to create their own urban farm.
Already, the Chocolate Factory has artists, designers, bands, photographers, upcyclers, sound designers, Buddhist martial arts and healing experts, horticulturalists, a creative baker, fashion designers, software designers and many more all becoming part of the community and fuelling the diverse creative atmosphere that is developing.
A cafe and restaurant is planned for the ground floor and it is hoped to be open in the next few months, combining a great place to have a coffee or a meeting, with some roof grown food in a creative and industrial atmosphere of the expansive ground floor.
This project is breathing some life back into King’s Inn Street and hopefully it will help to expand the creative sector of Dublin to include this beautiful old building and its resident creatives.
Pick up a copy of Positive Life Magazine’s Spring 2013 issue in your local health food store. Or subscribe online for €15 and have it delivered to your door four times a year.
For more on the Chocolate Factory visit www.chocolatefactory.ie
Other spaces worth a look: wwwblockt.ie and www.fumballyexchange.com
What is it about Earthsong Camps that have people flocking back every year?
You know you’re nearly at the Earthsong field when you start to spot the road-signs saying “SLOW – Fairies Crossing.” That’s the bit when your heart throws off its chains and you begin to inhale properly again.
Earthsong Camps came into being in 2007, andthis year three separate camps will run between May and late July at venues in Tipperary and Clare. They were the dreamchild of renowned drum teacher and community musician John Bowker, with the aim of creating a magical healing space that offers an escape from life in the “system”. The camps offer a place of safety for people to come and be themselves – “a nature reserve for human beings,” as Bowker calls it.
What this looks like on the ground is a page from a kid’s storybook – a field with circles of tents, a forest, giant-sized dream-catchers swaying in the breeze, a café where the seats are bales of straw and at the centre of it all a grand Big Top which serves as the meeting place for all sorts of important events. A sign on the fence reads: “This field may contain nuts,” and for anyone who ever felt at odds with “normal” life, the place is like home.
All of the Earthsong Camps are strictly drug and alcohol free, which is a rarity even among eco-friendly festivals. No electronics are allowed on camp, and phones can only be used offsite. The idea is for everyone to “be here now” – to be properly available to connect with yourself and others and not to miss your own experience. Rather than a hardship, the rules are accepted more like a gift – a rare escape from the pull of the digital world. All music onsite is created by the campers – an empowering experience for anyone who has previously only connected with music as a passive listener.
The safety of this world without alcohol and drugs makes Earthsong an especially appealing place to bring children and teenagers. For little ones, their days at camp offer them something most have never experienced before – the freedom to explore nature, people, creativity and a model of human relationships that they may never see any other time. To see a man hug another man and hold him while he cries, to cook on an open fire, to sit in the middle while around them a bunch of unconnected grown-ups learn to sing a harmony so beautiful it would make an angel blush. After dinner, a human train travels around the camping circles to collect the little ones for their bedtime story, read by gentle and funny grown-ups with space in their hearts for other people’s kids. And it makes you happy-sad to see them skipping away and you ask yourself: “What could it be like, if life was like this all the time?”
For kids and teenagers growing up around the Earthsong ethos, you can sense the possibility that they will learn how to heal themselves regardless of what life brings their way. Over the years, John Bowker has done powerful work with teenagers and this is one of the strongest currents flowing through the Earthsong week. Teens have the possibility of camping in their own circle, and it is a sight to behold to see them devour the freedom and responsibility their independence brings. Dedicated teen-workers are there for guidance and support, and a full timetable of workshops are on offer in music, movement and the healing arts.
The workshops for all age groups are at the heart of the camp, and once the ticket price is paid, access to every class is free. There are numerous workshops on offer, including dance, drum, family constellations, astrology, creative writing, laughter yoga, conflict resolution and drama. The workshops range from raucous fun to deep personal development classes. Depending on what you bring with you (inside) when you get there, you will probably find the medicine you need.
This is part of the magic of Earthsong – that everyone’s experience is completely individual. For some people, it is a week of pure fun, and for others, a time of profound healing. Earthsong offers a massive opportunity for personal development work, with so many workshops available and the likelihood that you will meet a kind healer on your way to the compost loo, who is happy to offer you time and support. For many, this annual visit to a simple field in the countryside has become their yearly chance to recalibrate their lives – to remind themselves of who they really are and how they want their lives to be. There can be sadness for what has been lost, and then the celebration of discovering yourself again.
Behind it all, Bowker and a team of dedicated coordinators keep all the systems running smoothly, so it seems like this village in a field was always there. They come on weeks before and build it all – café, crèche, playground, cabaret, hot showers, sauna, and beautiful cosy venues to run workshops in. And when it is over, they restore the field to its pristine state, removing every last trace of the settlement that was there. Then the cows come in and graze the field again, until the next year.
And when you go home, when you step back through the wardrobe and they’ve hardly noticed you were gone. You might start to tell them a thing or two about it until you realise there’s no point, they won’t believe a word of it, unless you take them back next time and they see it for themselves.
To never miss an issue of Positive Life again, subscribe here and have it delivered to your door for €15 per year.
For booking information on the 3 camps, visit www.earthsong.ie
Ann Hill is a writer and alternative business coach. www.yourlifeswork.ie
Learning from Nature By Davie Philip
What do billions of years of resilience have to teach us?
“Those who are inspired by a model other than Nature, a mistress above all masters, are labouring in vain.” ~ Leonardo Da Vinci
What does it mean to live a good life, especially in a time when we face so many uncertainties? How do we maintain our health, happiness and collective well-being when the world seems to be unravelling? How do we make a living by collaborating and working together for the common good? These are some of the questions I have been exploring, and attempting to answer, in this column.
In my experience, being on a mission to “save the planet” is actually an unhelpful perspective to taking the action needed to reduce our environmental impact. It’s not the planet that needs saving. As nature is dynamic, always changing, turbulent and unforgiving, any “return to nature” thinking needs to be reframed to look at how we best cope with a rapidly changing world.
As natural systems are resilient, abundant and self-organising, I want to explore what we might learn by observing and emulating them. With nature as a teacher, we could make things in ways that don’t impact the environment anddo strengthen our resilience, and design systems that will allow our communities to flourish.
For three years, I have lived and worked in Cloughjordan, a small village in Tipperary and the 2012 winners of the national Green Community award. It is also the location of the Ecovillage, Ireland’s largest eco-neighbourhood, now home to over 50 families who have relocated in the hope of living a good life. The quality of life in Cloughjordan is indeed high. As a community, we have planted thousands of trees, have our own farm and live in efficient eco-houses that are bright and heated by renewable energy.
Although ecology is a focus of the community, it is definitely not our objective to get “back to nature”. We encourage the use of natural building materials, farm organically and aspire to reduce our environmental impact, but the Ecovillage project is more about community than saving the planet. The project’s original objective, building sustainable community, has been superseded by the idea of strengthening our community’s resilience.
In their book, Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back, Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy point out that “a new dialogue is emerging around a new idea, resilience: how to help vulnerable people, organizations and systems persist, perhaps even thrive, amid unforeseeable disruptions. Where sustainability aims to put the world back into balance, resilience looks for ways to manage in an imbalanced world.”
We need to cultivate our resilience, and transforming linear, wasteful and polluting ways of using resources is an imperative. In the search for genuinely green solutions that take us beyond conventional sustainability, we will find that nature got there first. By observing the way nature does things, we can learn so much.
Janine Benyus, an American biologist, coined the term biomimicry for the science of examining the natural world and mimicking it to create more sustainable ways of making and doing things. She describes it as “the conscious emulation of nature’s genius”.
The word is derived from the Greek words bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate. Architects, engineers and social innovators who use this approach always start with the question: “What would nature do here?”Biomimicry has already helped us to conserve resources, gather water, harvest energy more efficiently, and offers all sorts of innovative responses to the challenges we face.
The approach makes it possible to manufacture materials with no pollution, build more efficient structures, create zero-waste systems, make our constructed world more resilient to change and help us make the transition away from a fossil fuel economy.
One example of biomimicry is the development of coatings for ship’s hulls based on the ability of a shark’s skin to reduce drag. The coating creates a more streamlined surface, which reduces friction and saves on fuel. Speedo even makes a swimsuit that uses this technology called Fastskin, which US swimmer Michael Phelps wore at the Bejing Olympics in 2008. These suits allow swimmers to move faster through the water and are so effective that they have now been banned in contests.
Biomimicry is well established in the fields of industrial design, engineering and manufacturing, but what I am interested in is how we can use nature as the inspiration for any of us to create solutions for our own and our community’s well-being. We can do this through Permaculture, an “it’s-all-connected” whole systems approach to the way we design our landscapes and human systems.
The essence of Permaculture is the design of an ecologically sound way of living. It is not another “back to nature” movement; it is a very practical and effective way to emulate natural patterns and principles to increase our resilience and quality of life. In the development of a permanent culture, learning by watching what is going on in the natural world is a very powerful tool.
Permaculture is an approach that takes us beyond sustainability to a truly restorative design for creating human habitats and healthy ecosystems. It helps us to protect and enrich soil, boost biodiversity and use natural resources in a healthy way. Underpinning this is the simple idea of working with, rather than against nature.
Permaculture principles can even help us to design viable social systems. The quality of every living system, and its ability to endure, is determined by the quality of its relationships, both internally between its elements and with its environment. This profound lesson from nature can be applied not only to the way we design our gardens and farms but how we structure our organisations and society. Permaculture could be defined as the science of maximising beneficial relationships.
Diversification reduces risk and builds resilience and is essential to a Permaculture approach. Nature relies on a large variety of species, systems and organisms that allow it to withstand external shocks because diversity gives strength. Everyone can study and apply Permaculture design; it really is an application of common sense.
If resilience is about cultivating the ability to cope with shocks and to self-organise, to change and to adapt, then there is no better teacher than nature. As Janine Benyus says: “After 3.8 billion years of research and development, failures are fossils, and what surrounds us is the secret to survival.”
Cultivate are offering a number of Permaculture courses over 2013. FEATAC accredited courses held over three weekends are being hosted in the spring and autumn, and a 9-day, full Permaculture Design Course is held in August with renowned US teacher Albert Bates. The courses will be held in the brand new WeCreate Centre in CloughjordanEcovillage. This setting provides participants with a unique opportunity to see many key sustainable systems in practice.
For full details, see www.cultivate.ie or call 0505 56063
Davie Philip runs the Community Resilience programme at Cultivate. He is based at the CloughjordanEcovillage and is a board member of GIY Ireland.
By Cora Carey
When I was 20 I was lost. Desperately grieving and seriously underweight, I recall wishing there was somewhere I could flee to for a while – a special sanctuary where I could be nourished and healed and have space to lick my wounds.
Fast forward 22 years and here I am in Bordeaux, South West France, in just such a sanctuary; except that it is more beautiful and health giving than I could ever have imagined. So why am I here? And who owns this healing oasis? Liz Dowling: a petite and determined Kerry woman who embodies radiant health, and seems to glow with an inner light and knowing. Having been in the healing and nutrition business for over 20 years, Liz decided, last year, that her destiny lay in France and in providing a healing retreat for tired and wounded souls. So she upped sticks and left for Bordeaux, on her own, at the age of 56, knowing no one. That in itself is an inspiration!
A series of miraculous coincidences and fortuitous offers of help from normally reticent locals enabled Liz to realise her dream before year one was out. This also reinforced her belief that what you put out there you get back, and she lives this philosophy every day. Liz may be an amazing healer, reflexologist, massage therapist, nutrition therapist and stress management expert, but her greatest teaching tool is her own life. The most flagging spirit cannot fail to be reignited by her contagious passion and courage as she walks the talk, positively affirming that all good things are possible and come from within.
What Liz provides is simply this: space to heal. You’ll also find the support and tools you need to begin moving forward. How this happens is entirely up to you – you may be exhausted and need to sleep, you may need to talk, to cry or simply to give your body healthful foods and gentle walks among the vineyards. Or you may need to sit in the beautiful gardens and simply be. From the moment she picks you up at the airport, Liz will take care of you like a mammy; producing the most scrumptious and healthy meals that cater for all dietary needs. You set your own agenda, and Liz goes with the flow. She has a gift for making herself as available as you need her to be, always respectful of your space, and at the same time ready with a listening ear for your deepest troubles, offering canny insights and hugely practical advice based on her vast knowledge and unfailing intuition.
And all this is in the most heavenly rural setting imaginable. The house, a one hundred year old French Manor, is simply stunning; as are the four acres of gardens. The manor’s period features have been retained and enhanced with modern stylish touches, and each bedroom is warm, bright and inviting. Closing the massive window shutters each evening is like being securely cocooned for the night, and restful evenings can be spent by the open fire in the gorgeous farmhouse kitchen. Glass of wine optional. So, you can forget the notion that you must abstain from life’s little pleasures while at Civrac! Liz has thought of everything, right down to providing luxurious bathrobes and even sourcing chocolate that’s healthy!
Three tired and emotional sisters (one of them me) made the trip to Civrac in May and collapsed in a collective heap at Liz Dowling’s feet. A long overdue break from busy career and family lives, our four night stay was like being wrapped in a warm blanket of peace and healing. As a holistic therapist juggling a husband, 3 kids and a Jack Russell, with a busy practice, it was time to walk the talk and make space for some of that ‘me time’ I usually prescribe for clients. Believe me when I say, I’d forgotten what it felt like to be free from commitments and clockwatching.
Healing treatments and assessments (all by Liz) are optional, but just having her deep wisdom on tap was a huge catalyst and I made giant leaps in terms of personal healing and development. My two sisters, one a self-employed (and self-confessed) stress junkie, and the other an exhausted hypnotherapist also had major epiphanies. It’s said that every journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We took the first one by giving ourselves the gift of time and space away from the daily grind and stresses. Civrac Sanctuary and Liz Dowling did the rest!
For more info, visit www.civracsanctuary.com
Interviewed by Patrick Bridgeman
Margaret Brazil had her first psychic experience, “seeing a room full of spirits” late in life. Now 62 years old, spirits utilise her in every way to convince the people who come from all over the world to see her that they are present, and that they are very real.
The best readings are usually to those who are sceptical. The spirits go all out to prove their existence – to show off! There will be fireworks! It’s good to be sceptical, not to be gullible. Plenty have come through my door sceptical, but nobody has ever left unconvinced. Nobody can explain or contradict the evidence that’s given through me in a private reading.
I had my first psychic experience over 20 years ago. I am clairvoyant, clairaudient and clairsentient. I’m a “medium” in the real sense of the word in that I act as a go-between for clear and lengthy two-way conversations between the person and the spirit or spirits.
There is no secret. None of us are Chosen or are Special. Some of us just develop this gift, maybe through pain or heartache, while others might live their lives busy with other things and untouched by quiet thought or meditation.
At the beginning, I was more amazed than the people who came to me by what was coming from my mouth. I wasn’t sitting down trying to “home in”. In fact, I had to teach the spirits manners after a while. It’s like having children in the house and needing to teach them their place. I had to learn to control them. They can’t just butt in, all of the time, into my life. I have to live normally too. Although, if there is something extreme, they will try to get word to the family by appearing and speaking regardless.
One night I was sitting alone at home when I saw a movement beside me. On the white wall opposite me, an oval frame “appeared” and in it a picture of my father – who died in 1969. As true as God. As though I was watching a short film, I could see him walking from the bus stop on the Quays, down O’Connell Street, wearing his hat and coat and with a newspaper folded under his arm. I watched this for a good five minutes. At least. I kept looking away, looking back. I wasn’t seeing things. Now, if someone has an explanation for that, I’d love to hear it. Because I don’t.
I’ve a private phone number and I don’t tend to give it out. But two decades ago, it started ringing a lot. Every day. People looking for readings. I’ve never asked anyone how they heard of me. Over time, I came to trust that they were meant to find me. That I can do something for them. That I was meant to see these people who found me. That I must have something to give them. There are no coincidences.
I’m inclined to see each person only the once, unless they really want to come back again. I wish for them to be at peace, to find comfort and then to live their lives, not to become caught up in the dead.
Also, I’m not a fortune teller. People shouldn’t come to me if they’re looking for that. Nor am I a healer. I can’t even look after myself most of the time. Rather I’m a channel through which people who have passed on can communicate with and heal their loved ones. I can’t heal anybody, but I can facilitate wonderful healing that comes from this higher level.
Whatever God it is you believe in, He does not keep secrets from people who take the time to talk to Him.
Spirits are always just a thought away.
At the end of our interview, as I was about to say goodbye, Margaret asked me, “Who is the other Patrick?” My Granda Paddy popped into my head and she went on to provided me with evidence that it was him who was communicating with me through her. He told me that he was very proud of me because I was doing something that I loved, and that, while he didn’t want to take credit for where I now was, he’d always been there beside me, giving me guidance and looking after me. Thanks Paddy!
To order a copy of Margaret’s book, “When Spirits Hold My Hand” visit www.poolbeg.com
By Davie Philip
If you managed to get to any of the big music festivals this summer, you might have got a whiff of ‘Green’. It seems like every music festival these days is flaunting their ecological credentials and claiming carbon neutrality. As more and more concert promoters, venues and artists ‘go green,’ Davie Philip asks how much of this activity is genuine, and what does the future hold for music festivals.
The Future of Green Festivals
The summer season of music festivals has come to an end, your tent is packed up and you have cleaned the mud off your wellies. Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to attend quite a few festivals, and as I write this, we are putting together the final plans for the Global Green, the Electric Picnic’s area for the more ethical and green festival-goer. I worked for a week in the Green Fields at the Glastonbury festival, talked in the Ecogen tent at Oxygen, and developed the sustainability strategy for the Big Tent, Scotland’s largest eco festival. What has this experience taught me about the greening of music festivals and what predictions would I make for the future of ‘green’ gatherings?
We certainly live in challenging times with the pain being felt by both the festival organisers as well as the punters. For almost everyone, a festival is always going to be about the music. Although in these uncertain times, I wonder if festivals can play any part in helping us to make the transition to a low carbon, fair and resilient world.
The origins of today’s music festivals go back to the 1960s and 1970s where they were free and in many ways different. The anti-nuclear and early green movement often provided the momentum for cultural celebration to be united with political action. However, recently these gatherings have been more about hedonism, individualism and consumption; not really the environment to think about our health, ethics or how we engage with what’s going on on our planet.
Big public events and celebrations are essential gatherings for society, and music festivals, even eco-trend-setting ones like Glastonbury and the Electric Picnic, will always have an environmental ‘impact’. But organisers are now committed to reducing the ecological footprint of festivals and finding more responsible and greener ways of hosting these events.
In June of this year, I looked down on the illuminated two square mile site of the extraordinary event that is the Glastonbury festival and thought, ‘Is this really sustainable?’ It was supposedly the greenest yet, but with a population comparable to a small city, an energy bill to match and a huge infrastructure of fences, stages and sound systems, its environmental footprint is huge. However, Glastonbury has always been at the forefront of ecological awareness and the introduction of measures to reduce its impact. When you walk around the Green Fields, there is something special that you won’t find in other parts of the festival. Traditional skills, holistic health and new ways of thinking combine in an explosion of creativity, which in many ways encapsulates the spirit, ideals and basic principles of the first festival four decades ago. Throughout the 80s, the festival was linked with CND, before moving on to green issues. Glastonbury now donates over £1 million each year to Greenpeace, Oxfam and local charities. These campaign groups also have a major presence on site, and there’s even a special Greenpeace field. Glastonbury has set the bar for how festivals can reduce their footprint and be more green.
Last year, Cultivate worked with POD concerts and many of the Electric Picnic’s stakeholders to develop a five-year sustainability strategy for the leading Irish music festival. This, along with other measures introduced on site, including the introduction of the Global Green area, won the Picnic a Green Festival award. This is a voluntary scheme that assesses festivals on their commitment to introduce environmentally friendly practices. The Picnic is the only Irish festival to receive the award.
The Electric Picnic, which took place this September for the sixth time on the grassy fields of Stradbally Hall, is the closest we get to a Glastonbury experience in Ireland. It is a commercial music festival but has more of an arts and culture focus with an increasing green agenda. The strap line of last year’s festival was, ‘Climate is changing. Will you?’ This was printed on 35,000 wristbands, t-shirts and even the main stage. This year the slogan was, ‘Keeping it Green’.
So, what are these ‘green’ festivals actually doing to reduce their impact? Measures include the introduction of eco-cups that can be reused and avoids the festival site becoming a sea of plastic. Stalls selling food are instructed to use biodegradable packaging and cutlery, allowing all food waste to be potentially composted. They are also asked to source food and drink from organic producers and be local or fairly traded. Revellers are encouraged to leave their cars at home and arrive by bike, public transport or to use a lift-sharing scheme. Waste is reduced and recycling introduced. Energy use is minimised and low energy bulbs are used in on-site lighting. Some festivals are even using bio-diesel to power generators. Many are introducing renewable energy stages using wind or solar instead of diesel generators.
Going ‘Carbon Neutral’ is the latest craze for some festivals that simply sign a check to offset their carbon emissions. The Big Tent festival in Scotland is encouraging music festivals to dump carbon offsetting. They claim that offsetting acts as a smokescreen for their impact, which can have the result of giving festival-goers a false sense that there is no need for action. Offsetting is a way of appeasing our conscience rather than changing our behaviour, and festivals should be about celebrating change, not about business as usual.
As well as reducing their environmental impact, I would like to see festivals doing more to facilitate the building of community and increasing the communication of critical issues. Glastonbury was a leader in this field, with new smaller festivals like the Big Tent and the Big Green Gathering now taking up that mantle. However, times are hard and with financial issues and increased health and safety constraints it is getting more and more difficult to host any festival, large or small. This summer the directors of the Big Green Gathering were forced to cancel their 2009 festival only two days before they were due to kick off. They have accused the police of taking a politically motivated decision to shut down the festival on the grounds that it attracts environmental activists and would have raised money for Climate Camp.
I think that new initiatives like Climate Camp, which bring people together in a very different way, could be the future of festivals. Although not a music festival, the underlying principles of the camp could be a blueprint for Green festivals of the future. Climate Camp, which was run for the first time in Ireland this summer, is self organising, autonomous and focused on doing things for ourselves in a way that is communal and non-commercial.
A fantastic example of this ‘bottom up’ way of organising a festival is Burning Man, the annual arts festival in the Nevada desert. This is an experiment in temporary community, dedicated to self-expression and a radical self-reliance. It has grown from a small group of people gathering spontaneously to over 48,000 from all over the world. Could this approach work to combine celebration, music and creativity with social and political engagement?
The greening of music festivals needs to encompass the reduction of environmental impacts, but also needs to increase the communication of the ways in which we can change our personal lifestyles and the big challenges of shifting the direction of international politics. Many ‘green’ initiatives being implemented are light, and others are initiated only to save money or for PR reasons. Real measures need to be encouraged, but there is a long way to go before many of our commercial music festivals can claim to be green.
Davie Philip is the Education manager at the Cultivate Centre, a member of the Cloughjordan Ecovillage and the coordinator of the Irish Transition Towns Network.
By Patrick Bridgeman
Life just keeps getting better and better, and even though the challenges in some areas of my life seem to be getting tougher, the good times far outweigh the bad, and the clouds always have a silver-lining with a lesson to learn and grow from.
It’s becoming easier to find positive news stories from home and abroad and, as always, it’s an absolute joy to share them with you, dear reader. So, without further ado, here are some of our favourites.
THE FESTIVAL OF LIFE
The Festival of Life is a one-day indoor festival, taking place at Conway Hall in Central London on Sat Sep 26th. Now in its 6th year, it is also Europe’s largest living food and sustainable lifestyles festival. Last year, it attracted 1,200 visitors – including some from the USA, across Europe, and all over the UK – with a range of activities from music to meditation; feasting to fasting; dancing to chanting; children’s edutainment to natural parenting; plus many methods to rejuvenate from the effects of 21st century living. The festival welcomes people who are new to living foods and environmentally friendly ways of living, as well as those who are already knowledgeable. It is family-friendly, with facilities and activities being planned for children. For more info, visit www.festivaloflife.net
HOMES FOR GOOD
At the centre of the Homes for Good exhibition, held at the Westpoint Arena in Exeter, was a simple but stunning display of native plants and trees, which caught the attention of the crowds. They were planted in peat-free compost, in big ‘dumper bags’, and it was revealed that all the foliage on display had a use, from food to medicine.
Urquhart & Hunt and Dana Assinder are two garden design practices. They collaborated at the exhibition to create an edible forest garden, in line with sustainability and biodiversity principles. The brief was to create a productive, permanent garden applying the concept of how plants grow out in the wild. The garden mimics a natural woodland by incorporating layers of productivity: a canopy layer, a layer of small trees, a shrub layer, climbers, ground cover and a woodland edge.
For more info, visit www.ecostrust.org.uk/h4g and www.urquhartandhunt.com and www.dkagardendesign.co.uk
The government of Belo Horizonte in southeast Brazil took the necessary steps back in 1993, to improve nutrition and food security for all of its three million citizens. Determined to lift its population out of poverty, the region declared that food was to become a right for all.
Working with the local farmers has enabled this project to be successful. The city’s government buys as much produce as possible from local, small and family owned farms. By purchasing directly and avoiding third party intermediaries, the city pays a lower price, while the farmers earn a higher income. For more info, visit www.positivenews.org.uk
THE RIPPLE EFFECT
Annette Morris Keane from The Ripple Effect sent me this story her Gran told her that made her day. “Granny’s friend’s son – a tradesman, did some work for a man he knew could not afford to pay him, so rather than just cut his cost, he did the job for nothing and refused to take any payment from the man who had employed his service. The man in question was so grateful, he bought the tradesman some lottery tickets to the value of €100. Well, that’s not technically true – because they were actually worth €10,000 in winnings!” For more from Annette’s good news group, visit http://ripple-vibrations.blogspot.com
Looking into how we can better organise our waste management, I can across an Irish machine called The Reuser. It’s a reverse vending machine (RVM), which is an automated recycling system that compacts, crushes and/or shreds used beverage containers, reducing volume by a ratio of 30:1. Based on either a barcode or material recognition, it is capable of storing cans and bottles separately. One unit can hold up to 3,800 cans and 1,800 plastic bottles and/or 400 glass bottles. This reduces the need for transportation and storage of these materials, thus cutting down on related CO2 emissions.
When I got in contact with Dean Keating of Reuse Reward Limited, he told me, “The project has been a great success to date. We would have recycled in excess of 1.5m containers in the Dublin area in 2008, 2m in all of Ireland. The cans are recycled into cans for reuse. The PET bottles can be recycled into numerous items ranging from clothing to kids toys. We have worked very well with schools at both primary and secondary level. All of the schools who have used the Reuse machine and applied for a green flag have been successful. We also have incentive schemes which allow participants to claim rewards based on the amount of recycling they do.
At present, our sites with public access are: National College of Ireland; Finglas Leisure Centre; Ballymun Leisure Centre; and Killinarden Community Centre. We are working closely with the councils in implementing this new scheme.” For a full list of the rewards available, as well as more info regarding The Reuser, visit www.reuse.ie
If you know of some positive news or have an inspiring true story, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org as we’d love to read and share it. Thanks.
“The life-force of nature pulses within your being, rooting you to the earth and reaching toward the heavens. When you feel your oneness with our natural world, you are feeling your own divinity. All living things are sacred, and you are a beautiful living part of that whole.”
Spirit of Nature
Movers and Shakers
With all this new energy coming onto the planet and into its people, the last thing you want to be is stagnant. Here are some great ways to get moving and shake things up a little this Autumn:
Fun in the Sun
‘Dartmouth Square’ is open to all again. Its a public space for local events which are low impact, fun, educational, green, cutting edge, theatrical, non-commercial and/or charitable. Donations at events pay for the park’s enhancement. We’ve been to the ongoing ‘Yoga in the Park’ more than once, with a new Teacher every Saturday from 11am. It’s great to be able to exercise out in the fresh air, with lovely people, in nature that’s in the city, but away from the hustle and bustle.
If you’d like more info on upcoming events, or if you’ve any ideas for events, email email@example.com
Is it a game, a dance, a fight, or all of the above? If you want to get your whole body grooving to the Capoeira beat, find out what classes are on in your area by visiting www.capoeiraireland.com
If you’re looking for a more gentle movement, Tai Chi proves to be no less powerful at shifting energy in all the right ways. It is relaxation through gentle movements combined with deep diaphragmatic breathing, leaving the practitioner feeling light, vibrant, and free from fatigue. For a list of classes, visit www.taichi-ireland.com
Our friends have some of the best businesses in Ireland, promoting healthy lifestyle choices and making it even easier for you make your choice:
Happy Living Food
We know wheatgrass is great, but here are two fab alternatives from the Happy Pear Living Foods which are easier on the taste buds and amazing for your health:
Sunflower Sprouts – packed full of protein, lecithin, chlorophyll and vitamin D
Pea Greens – contain 7 times more vitamin C than blueberries and 4 times more Vitamin A than tomatoes.
Enjoy them juiced or in any salad!
Visit www.livingfoods.ie or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The organic supermarket has just announced that they are expanding their Blackrock operation to include online shopping and next day delivery to all 32 counties in Ireland, so that the consumer can shop from the comfort of their own home, and they can bring good wholesome organic food to every home in Ireland. See www.organicsupermarket.ie
Raw Cook Books
Veronica O’Reilly, chef at Healthy Habits Cafe in Wicklow Town, has launched her new Raw Food Cookbook, entitled ‘Raw in a Cold Climate’, which contains 75 delicious recipes. Healthy Habits Cafe is a unique restaurant, based in Quarantine Hill in Wicklow Town, and serving a mouth-watering variety of raw, vegan and organic cuisine.
For lots of great products, visit www.healthyhabs.com
MILA – The Miracle Seed
MILA™ is a uniquely beneficial seed classified as a raw whole food by the FDA and backed by almost 18 years of scientific and agricultural research.
It contains the highest and safest concentrations below of any source on the planet – Omega-3 fatty acids, Antioxidants, Fibre, Phytonutrients.
As an added benefit, MILA™ is gluten-fee, trans-fat free, sugar-free, it is non GMO and Pesticide Free.
The Mixture is mechanically processed using a proprietary system that optimises the bioavailability and increases its nutritional value.
For more info, visit www.chia-ireland.com
The Super Zapper
Many researchers have found that a weak current of pulsed DC kills parasites in the body. This includes all types of worms, bacteria, viruses and fungi, as well as diseased cells and other pathogenic tissue. The Super Zapper is a simple but effective electro-medicinal device that does that job.
For more info and other great products, visit www.naturesenergy.net
Whatever path home you choose to walk, skip or jump along, there’s an event here to suit all tastes and temperaments:
National Organic Week
This is a great annual event at The Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co. Leitrim. If you’re in time for this year’s celebration, it includes the Harvestfeast in Drumshanbo (Sat 13th Sep), Guest chefs, Organic School Gardens and Healthy Eating for Children, Women’s day and Women’s Organic Horticultural Training Project, and the Community Food Project. The festival runs from the 13 – 17th Sep
Other events include APPLE DAY on Sun Oct 4th and GREEN CHRISTMAS CRAFT FAIR on Sun Nov 29th
For more info, visit www.harvestfeast.ie and www.theorganiccentre.ie
Mind Body Spirit
Whether you’re closer to Dublin or Cork, and regardless of what area of health and spirituality you’re interested in, you can head along to the annual Mind Body Spirit Festival this Autumn for a huge array of exhibitors, lectures, products and treatments.
City Hall, Cork, September 18th – 20th
RDS Main Hall, Dublin, October 24th – 26th
For a list of exhibitors and daily timetables, visit www.mindbodyspirit.ie
“Clearing Your Channel, and Soul Recovery Foundation Healing Technique”
with Janine Thorp and Damien Wynne.
Damien was taught this technique by highly evolved beings and entities, and has now been asked to pass it on to others. This workshop is equivalent to 7 or 8 individual healing sessions, clearing many blocks and patterns, and also gives the tools of the healing technique so that those who wish to use them in future can do so, and those who don’t, can become significantly more clear about their own channel, more grounded, more aligned, and feel more confident about their purpose and path in life.
Fri 25th and Sun 27th Sept.
Oscailt, 8 Pembroke Rd, Dublin 4
For more info on ongoing events, visit www.angellightcreations.com
Autumn schedule for Spirit One Seminars
James Twyman, internationally renowned, best-selling author, filmmaker and musician, who has a reputation for travelling to some of the world’s greatest areas of conflict and sharing his message of peace, presents ‘The Moses Code’, ‘The Kabbalah’ and ‘The Proof’ altogether on the 27th Oct 2009 at the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin.
Louis Parsons presents a Workshop on ‘Soul Expressions’.
Gary Quinn presents ‘Creating personal riches and well being through economic crisis’.
Vicky Argyle presents ‘The Oracle of Illumination’.
Further details from www.spiritoneseminars.com
An Evening with Noam Chomsky
Professor Noam Chomsky is widely credited with having revolutionized modern linguistics. He is one of the great political thinkers of our time, with numerous bestselling political books. In his forthcoming book, ‘Hopes and Prospects’, he draws hope for the future through grassroots activism as a mechanism for progressive change. “Activism is growing all over the world and ordinary people are realising that they can be agents for change”.
Join him for a stimulating evening on 2nd Nov from 7.30pm – 9.30 pm at the RDS Concert Hall. €50.00
For more info, visit www.seminars.ie
The Living Matrix
Our favourite weekly spiritual discussion group, The BuddhaBag Meeting, is hosting a Special Event in the Davenport Hotel this Nov 5th. It’s a special screening of ‘The Living Matrix’, a film on the new science of healing. The film was the inspiration for this issue’s feature story on ‘The Future of Medicine’ (pg.20). So if that article rocks your world, get along to the Davenport for a heaped spoonful of good medicine. Doors open 7pm.
Check out www.buddhabag.org for more info and other events.
One of the world’s most innovative biologists, best known for his theory of morphic fields and morphic resonance, which leads to a vision of a living, developing universe with its own inherent memory, is coming to Ireland for a Full-Day Workshop on Nov 7th.
For more info and to book a place, contact Jeff on 0868533744