By Caroline Knight
It is becoming harder and harder to ignore the need for widespread change. But because the level of change required can appear to be beyond humanity’s grasp (or at least that is the way it is often portrayed, even in the “alternative news”), it is no wonder that acknowledging it can be a monumental effort in itself. When you look around and see chaos, insanity, stifling rules and regulations, immoral procedures, and degradation of general values, it is little wonder that even the hyper-aware want to bury their heads. I would be lying if I said that I had not felt that way at times. But surely if this is the conclusion you draw when you scrutinize the World, it is an indication that the time is now to make a change. Even a small one. Even if you are the only person you know who is doing so. The chances are that if someone sees you doing so, they may just follow.
Giving Something Back
Here is a great example. In Brighton, UK, there is a group of people going by the name of “The Good Food Project.” Wishing to address one aspect of the change required – big corporate domination of the food supply – they set about manifesting a vision. This vision has nothing to do with money; it is about empowerment. A casual agreement among a few like-minded people led to them taking over a small, unused shop front in central Brighton, which they populated with local, in-season fruit and vegetables they had bought from green grocers, farmers, and wholesalers. They then offered this food to the public for donations – or free to those who could not afford to donate. All proceeds were used to acquire more local produce. Signs in the window explained what they were trying to achieve, in the hope of empowering others and encouraging them to do something similar.
This creative and selfless idea meant that good-quality, locally grown food was made available to all at whatever price they could afford. The activity also highlighted the fact that relying on the convenience of supermarkets’ pesticide-laden and imported vegetable supply, while over-paying and encouraging corporate “monopoly,” should not be “the norm.” After all, it is no secret that local farmers are being pushed out of the market by these conglomerates, which already provide everything from car accessories to garden furniture and broadband.
Inspiration and Condemnation
An interesting thing happened, as the idea started to attract attention. People started to hang out in the shop, playing music. A kind of “swap shop” also started up inside, with people leaving items such as books and clothes, and taking something else. Members of the public started donating food from their allotments or bringing in things like wild garlic, foraged from nearby woods. So not only did it encourage community, it inspired others (who may not ordinarily have found a way to share or be helpful) toward creative ideas and “doing their bit.” Via the project, land owners offered their land to those who had nowhere to grow vegetables due to long allotment waiting lists. Even the local Green Party MP approached the group to offer his help.
Of course, the inevitable happened. Because the group was squatting in a disused shop front that was not their own property, it was only a matter of time before the bailiffs swooped in to recover possession. An eviction happened – around three weeks into the project. Did I mention that the members of this project are homeless? Regardless, they only ate from the left-overs at the end of the day, and the proceeds that they have not been able to put back into the project are being kept until such a time as they can find a new location, hopefully this time where they have the permission of the landowner! They are not looking to make money or become a large venture. Their goals are simple, they don’t take themselves too seriously and they intended to have fun in the process. Their selfless and innovative venture deserves proper support and I wish them every success, because without groups like these we will never see vital change.
Change is Underway
Fortunately, the Good Food Project (sussexlocalproduce.blogspot.co.uk) is not alone in the kind of work that it is doing. Many other “grass roots” groups are working on better ways of living. Eco-villages are being created in many locations around the World. This type of news is generally not widely publicized, likely for the same reasons that natural cures are not – the potential threat to government-corporate profit and the control system managed by governments. A larger project in Todmorden, UK, called “Incredible Edible” says: “From our beginnings with herb gardens, we’ve taken to planting and growing veggies and trees round town. We’ve planted several orchards and there are more to come, and we’re working with public bodies round town to use their land – like the fire station and the railway station – or to work with them on their own incredible ideas, like social landlord Pennine Housing. Every school in the town is now involved in growing with us and we promote food-based learning for the community as a whole.”
What Will Be Your Motivation?
So what will you personally do by way of positive steps toward a better life? While we do not encourage anyone to squat on private property, as happened above, we each need only address one aspect of the global crisis we are currently facing – whichever aspect invokes the most passion. For me, it is health and food; inspiration always arises when I consider these issues. We are biological beings whose physical and mental function and capabilities can be impaired by the often inevitable physical illnesses we face. We face these as a result of our collective poor food choices, our acceptance of the government/corporate domination, and arbitrary claims of authority. Even if we only buy from our local farmer or green grocer, we’re making a positive change. It’s worth a thought.