Posted: June 22nd, 2016 | Author: Musicraft | Filed under: Art, Cool Projects, Events, Uncategorized | Tags: art, community, Residents, resistance, sipson, sustainability | No Comments »
On Saturday 23rd July, Harts, Transition Heathrow and others are preparing an ‘Alternative Visions’ Launch, 12-6pm in the Sipson Community Centre in Heathrow, UB7 0DD.
There will be a ‘Gallery of Alternatives’ showing the innovative solutions that people are already cultivating in Heathrow and beyond, alongside some delicious food and drink.
This will be followed by an open space session for constructive discussions about developing positive alternatives in to the future, followed by some spectacular performances.
Currently, there are two predominant visions for the future of Heathrow – either the government decides this year that the airport is expanded, or the hotels, car parks and infrastructure serving the existing airport continues – both visions result in the destruction of homes, habitats and communities.
We want your input, skills and wisdom to create an alternative vision for our future.
Posted: June 10th, 2016 | Author: Eddy Gums | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Spiritual ecology is the knowing that we are all part of one living, spiritual being. It is the knowing of the connection of our soul and the soul of the world: The understanding that our fate is entwined with the fate of life on earth.
The rupture of this spiritual connection to the earth, and the resultant mind-set which sees the human experience as separate to life on earth, viewing nature as something external to our lives that can be controlled or managed, is fundamental in how we are to understand the breakdown of ecological systems around the world. We must move beyond the thinking that has created the problem. We must move beyond the logic of capital.
This home is on the site of an abandoned market garden, once agricultural land. Our protection of this land, to preserve it for agricultural use, means resistance, resulting in an antagonistic relationship with the landowners and the police. We do not recognise the private ownership of the land we live on. In this capitalist world system, where private property is enshrined by law over the rights of nature, we should confront the possession of land where we can. Within our spiritual ecology, we must begin to challenge the commodification of nature. This must be central in the ‘great turning’ (Macy 2007) we are to make.
Living at Grow Heathrow has been a spiritual experience. We are actively rebelling against the wasted values of materialism, the capitalist world view which seeks to objectify nature.
We attempt to have a relationship with our home amongst the Elder tree, viewing the land we live on as sacred; this means rejecting the old habits of objectifying land, claiming it for an investment or naming it for empire. In this city of London, we see this ‘extractivist mind-set’ in overdrive; land and property too often does not serve this city’s children, their families and communities, but is simply banked on, viewed as a relatively safe and secure investment.
At Grow Heathrow, we do not own the land, it does not belong to us, there is only a relationship with the land, with the Elder tree. This is a relationship we are only just discovering, one that can nourish us. We are learning how the calendula can heal our skin. We are learning how the elder berries can protect us from viral infections.
We have become more attuned to the workings of the earth, the shifts in weather patterns on this island and how this influences our daily activity. Sometimes one experiences this in simple ways, like whether we need to water our plants, whether we have enough energy gained from the wind turbine and solar panel to power tonight’s party.
Living here involves developing a greater understanding of earth’s rhythms. We mark the equinox and solstice with celebration. This is a reminder of our connection with nature, the rhythms of growing food. It is our attempt to honour and give respect to nature.
Our compost toilets reaffirm our cyclical relationship with resources; ‘humanure’ is used as a mulch for trees and flowers. Living in a community garden growing organic fruit and vegetables, one becomes more conscious of the health of the soil.
Whilst we learn organic food production on our occupied land, the objective is not to sustain ourselves solely from the land we live on. With the amount of land we have, and the number of mouths to feed, this is neither possible nor our primary aim. However, the sharing and giving of food is central in bringing people together; this gesture can be conceived as a spiritual component of our community work. Collecting waste food from wholesale markets and supermarket bins, we make use of this ‘waste’, serving to volunteers, those who visit us for the day or attend our workshops.
We aspire to replicate nature and the gift economy, offering our events and resources for free. Nature has a gift economy. One can see this in how an apple tree gives its fruit with unconditional love. We must aspire to provide food, knowledge, festivity and love without expecting anything in return.
Moving to Grow Heathrow has had its challenges for those who have been brought up with western comforts; heating our homes without burning fossil fuels has been a steep learning curve. There is much to learn here. A cold night can connect one to the harsher reality of living on the streets of London. Just as fasting can be a spiritual tool to bring one closer to those without food, being inflicted more acutely by a cold winter snap makes one empathise with those without shelter.
There is an emphasis on preserving the wildlife that surrounds our self-built dwellings and communal spaces. There is a tension between the need for shelter, the need to create infrastructure for a community numbering 40 to 50 at times, and cutting back wildlife. This is in the context of a housing crisis in London, with brutal evictions making people homeless. We’ve taken in many. There is a need for land, to house people. We have discussions attempting to overcome this issue. In the practise of our democracy, the care and respect for other species is present. But we are learning – we will make mistakes.
The straw-bale house could be described as a sacred building, the temple of our community. A building, which was constructed with a respect and reverence for nature, using locally sourced, organic materials. When meditating in the straw-bale house, one cannot erase this memory from the depths of the mind, the memory of love and care that went into the building. The house is surrounded by Elder trees, providing homes for a variety of birds; their singing surrounding us as we sit in stillness.
With the sometimes daunting challenge of facing up to corporate greed and state imperialism, meditation can help us find clarity and conviction. The state of peril that we find ourselves in, with 6 degrees of planetary warming a real possibility, spelling the widespread extinction of species on earth – if we are not to despair, we must ‘touch eternity in the present moment, with our in-breath and out-breath’ (Thich Nhat Hanh 2012).
If we are to truly acknowledge our intimate relationship between our bodies and the health of the soul of the world, how are we to persist obediently to the norms of modern society that are destroying our health? Understanding of this intimate relationship must translate into a fierce love to protect it, a love whose reach moves beyond the legal authority of any given land.
We must protect nature. We must protect ourselves. The love we have for each other and life on earth must result in a fierce resolve to protect us. Sometimes we will have to act in a way which sacrifices our legal rights for the rights of other humans, for other life to flourish. We must embrace an antinomian spiritual ecology, whereby our ecological responsibility demands a rejection of civil legal authorities and their laws. With a spiritual ecology, this act no longer is sacrificial, but a self-interested act; an eroding detached ego-self making way for an identity as one with nature. In our movements we can garner great strength and resilience with this understanding of oneness.
One indicator that the earth is degrading is the lack of empathy and love for those most vulnerable in society. This is a cause anyone concerned with our collective spiritual awakening should engage with. We can measure the greatness of a society by how it treats those most poor and marginalised. This is why we must wed any ecological resistance to struggles against austerity in the UK, and the oppressive, egotistical ideology which serves it. Struggles against patriarchy, racism and colonialism cannot be detached from our spiritual work. If we begin not to care for our own kind, how will we develop empathy for life as a whole? A lack of empathy for humankind is a signpost for the degradation of our ecology.
The change that is required of us, to become more fully awaken ecologically minded humans, cannot come from a top down approach. The change we need cannot come from government alone. We will rely on the local actions of all of us. We depend on all of us individually and in communities, making self-determination the centre of our activity, to weaken the tyrant of capital that enchains us.
We must no longer prop up capital, or any power structures which oppress human beings or exploit life on earth. Our driving momentum is not to convince those in power to change their direction. It is often very tempting to be lured into the logic of the state and its power. Instead we hope to transcend the logic of party politics, enhance a culture of DIY, encouraging others to take politics into their own hand.
We must engage with experiences which teach us how to commune together, how to live together as an interdependent community. There are emotional resources and wisdom one can acquire from living communally, or in Grow Heathrow’s case, living in a squatted eco community. This experience, that is both taxing and enriching, can help us develop the kind of compassion we will need to embrace each other in wider society and the ecology as a whole.
Part of our project as spiritual ecologists is to undermine the political narrative that justifies our exploitative economies. The ideology that believes we cannot act as ‘we’, but as self-centred individuals. This notion has to be undermined, we must be part of a political project which demonstrates that human beings can and are motivated by far nobler causes than financial gain; instead, being driven by mutual aid and cooperation, care and compassion for humans and other beings.
We must reawaken the identity which wishes to respect the ancient soul of the world, ensure this life giving force prevails over the competitive, industrialist psyche that has dominated capitalist economic production. We can hope that the struggle against corporate interests and the state can reinvigorate our spirit, allowing us to become more centred to the needs of the global ecology within our political framework. We can hope that by mobilising in solidarity against the objectification of nature, we can grow a greater ecological awareness amongst humanity.
Everything we achieve at Grow Heathrow is only with the comradery of trusted allies who inspire as much as they are friends. Living there has demanded everything of us, trials that have touched our whole humanity. I am continually moved and inspired by the individuals who move here. They have made a spiritual step, for they have recognised the emptiness of materialism, how the pursuit of financial gain bankrupts the soul. By moving to Grow Heathrow, one has placed greater importance on human bonds, the need to take care of human beings, and take care of nature. This is a step that I admire in everyone who has moved there, one that I admire in all human beings.
Thich Nhat Hanh. 2012. Thich Nhat Hanh: in 100 years there may be no more humans on planet earth.
Macy, J. 2007. The Great Turning. Berkeley: Centre for Ecoliteracy
Originally featured in The Ecologist
Posted: May 8th, 2016 | Author: Eddy Gums | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Lewdown Holdings Limited (who own most of the land we live on) are attempting to get a possession order which would mean we could be forcibly removed from the community project that we have all worked together to establish for over 6 years.
Having turned this once abandoned market garden into an ecologically thriving community garden – a site where all previous planning applications have been rejected, each proposed development failing to respect the ecology of the land and the needs of the local community – Grow Heathrow could be facing an immediate threat of eviction.
There will be a solidarity demonstration, gathering from 9:00am outside Uxbridge County Court on Thursday 19th May.
The address is: 501 Uxbridge Road, Hayes, London UB4 8HL.
By public transport, ride buses 90, 195 or H98 from Hayes and Harlington station, or the 427 or 607 from Ealing Broadway.
Grow Heathrow is happily volunteering our beds and a cup of tea in the morning to anyone who may travel from further afield. In the morning we’ll cycle to court together. Bring your banners, and musical instruments. Let’s have a party, laughing all the way to court.
In the 20th century, Chief Luther Standing Bear of the Lakota tribe said,
“The old Lakota was wise. He knew that man’s heart away from nature becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans too.”
In other words, if you don’t treasure this beautiful planet that we currently inhabit, then you are unlikely to value the lives and rights and the needs of its people.
Grow Heathrow asks us to take up the challenge of connecting our economies to the quality of our lives and the future of the environment, and – most concretely and urgently – we hope to raise the alarm on behalf of those living on the front lines of climate change in the global south, and our neighbours in the Heathrow villages.
Join us on the 19th May in solidarity for the villagers’ long, inspiring campaign for their rights, their futures, as Heathrow’s onslaught for a 3rd runway intensifies.
Posted: March 27th, 2016 | Author: finnmc | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
On the 27th of March 2016 volunteers from Grow Heathrow helped an abandoned orchard to get back on its feet.
The orchard is situated in Harlington. It seems to have been neglected for many years.
All the trees are almost completely smothered in ivy and huge amounts of rubbish have been left there.
Lots of this rubbish has now been left by the road for the council to collect.
The ivy was chopped near the base of some trees.
This will gradually die and give the trees a chance to become productive and healthy again.
If anyone wants to get involved in helping to sort out this orchard then come to Grow Heathrow and get involved.
There is still a lot of rubbish to clear. There is also lots of potential growing space beneath the trees.
Hopefully this can become a beautiful bountiful resource, providing fresh healthy food to the local community once again. Rather than a fly tipping site.
Posted: March 27th, 2016 | Author: finnmc | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Grow Heathrow has been found to be home to a huge number of stag beetles (lucanus cervus) living in rotting woodchip around the site. These are the largest beetles in England and are seriously threatened on a global scale. South-east England is the most common place to find them in the country. Stag beetle numbers have had a decline in recent years because of loss of habitat. They live as larvae in rotting wood for 5-7 years and then become beetles for a few months while they breed.
On our site there are loads of larvae living in piles of rotting woodchip around site. Most of the larvae have been found living in the driveway, where hundreds of loads of woodchip have been dropped of by tree surgeons over the years. Most of this woodchip is well rotted now and is great for putting on growing beds as mulch. We sieve the woodchip first to remove any un-rotted chips, and re-home any stag beetle larvae we find.
Adding rotted woodchips to soil has many benefits, some of which include:
Encouraging worms which dig through the soil and aerate it.
Reducing competition from weeds, allowing more nutrients and water for plants you are growing.
Adding extra nutrients to the soil.
Increasing the soil buffering capacity, which means plants can tolerate a bigger variety of acidity levels in soil.
Improving the soil structure.
Allowing conditions for mycorrhizal fungi to grow, if no-dig gardening is practiced, which have a huge list of benefits (you can read about here: http://mycorrhizas.info/roles.html).
Protecting the soil from weathering from the elements.
Woodchip and logs are easy to come by for free, just ring up your local tree surgeons. If you have a garden please leave some piles of un-treated wood to rot down for stag beetles, the larvae prefer it if they can stay in one location while they grow so try not to move logs around. If you find larvae while digging up rotted woodchip for mulch then just bury them again and they should survive.
At the side of the driveway we have made a home for stag beetles which we find when digging in the woodchip, it’s just a pile of rotting wood and woodchip with the larvae buried inside.
Posted: January 26th, 2016 | Author: Ali | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Winter is often seen as a time for rest and reflection. For many mammals it’s a time to make a nice warm den and hibernate for a few months, getting ready for the year ahead.
At Grow Heathrow, we’re often lured in to the traps of modern life – always doing, doing, doing and doing some more. This can all get a bit much and lead to burn out.
So, in an attempt to counter this, we’ve decided we’re going to hibernate for the month of February. This means we won’t be accepting any new volunteers for this period, in order to allow us to reflect on the past year, build the relationships within the already existing group and have a bit of a rest.
You’re still more than welcome, however, to visit us during the day, come to our workshops and events, and make suggestions for workshops for the coming months.
Also, in the first week of March – we’d love you to come and stay in order to help us get ready for our 6th Birthday celebrations!