TANYA’S VOICE: Welcome to Nordic By Nature, a feature length podcast on ecology today inspired by the Norwegian Philosopher Arne Naess, who coined the term Deep Ecology. In this episode, ON ART you will hear the voices of two Norwegian artists, Catrine Gangstø and Laila Kolostyák. Catrine and Laila are committed to using ART as a meeting point for engaging the local community in thinking about equity, identity and our inner and outer natural worlds.
But first you will hear a few words from my colleague Ajay Rastogi, at the Foundation for the Contemplation of Nature. Ajay works closely with the women of Majkhali village in foothills of the Himalayas, in Uttarakhand, India. He set up the Vrikshalaya Centre there to be a meeting place and knowledge hub for the villagers and other communities in the Himalayan lowlands, as well as visitors and homestay guests interested in learning about more meaningful forms of sustainability.
Catrine Gangstø is the founder of the Peace Painting Foundation, that runs painting workshops for children, youth and adults all over the world, including war zones. Through her idea of Painting for Peace, Catrine has engaged over 3,000 workshop participants and many more through travelling exhibitions of their work. Catrine has proven that painting can be a safe space for sharing difficult experiences and emotions as well as a way to communicate hopes and desires for peace in the world.
Then we hear from Laila Kolostyák, a visual artist who works with snow and ice. Laila and her colleagues have engaged a whole generation of young people in creating and enjoying outdoor snow and ice experiences that culminates in the Borealis festival in Alta, which lies 375 km north of the Arctic Circle.
I hope you have time to sit back and enjoy listening!
Peace paintings from Norway
AJAY: My name is Ajay Rastogi, and I’m joining from the central Himalayan region of Uttarakhand state in India.
It’s a lovely sunny morning and we have the mountain views of the high Himalayas in a very spectacular way. And that reminds me of the work of Katrina and Laila, as they do in Norway and all across the world, with the children as well as with all age groups, inspiring the people to connect with the art.
It’s a bit of a concern that art is increasingly thought of as something which is only about creativity and not as something which fills us with joy or something that we need to do as a part of our daily schedules are something that we need to connect with in a deeper way. As a community because somehow the distinction of work what should be there vs. what is leisure is somehow the art has shifted to the world of leisure whereas what we feel is that art and innovation and creativity was a part of our every walk of life.
Ajay Rastogi, Founder of the Foundation for the Contemplation of Nature.
We did it in food and we did it with clothing. We did it with the shelter. We were very deeply connected in how we can have a community deeply connected with the landscape drawing resources from the landscape and making them artistically feasible for us to enjoy. And in a very communitarian way. Somehow, we feel that it’s the art which brings a lot of cooperation and collaboration. Art is also the measure of expression when we create works of art with natural Lord and in nature. Then I think we are definitely also a lot of harmony in more leaning. So there is a considerable amount of happiness and joy.
So, I think engineers can create art. Doctors can create art. Lawyers can create art financial people can create art. Art also creates us. We don’t just create the art. And I think that’s where we get in deeper in connection with ourselves with our bodies with our minds without emotions and we feel that empathetic connect with the community at large.
SOUND: Skype ringing.
Catrine: My name is Catrine Gangstø, and I have grown up in the northern part of Norway. and I am working with peace painting. It’s an Equality Project for Children and Youth. We started in to 2007, locally, but very soon it became international because we had grants from the foreign departments to try out the way of working with children and youth in other countries.
Catrine on holiday in Bindalen, Norway
It’s a lot of years since they had the idea in using colours as the main platform when we work with equality among children and youth. And that is because I can see colours in words. It’s called synaesthesia. I can see colours in words and everything.
I think I was thirty years old when I realised that it was not common to have this skill. When I was a child …for instance if I didn’t like the Colours that occurred on the on the city, I didn’t want to go there. It was the same when everything. It forms my antipathy and sympathy, when I was a child and young woman.
When I was studying art history, teaching and different religions, different beliefs. And then they had this idea to try to make a equality project for children and youth. And using visual art and making texts.
it became a big success locally.
CATRINE ON SEVEN NEEDS
First of all, we always have an inspiration time, where we talk about seven human needs that everyone has, and we knit it into colours, but in the end, we say every colours is in every colours. So it’s open you can connect all you want.
Maybe they just start painting. But we talk about seven human needs as physical needs. emotional needs, and concentration so you can learn, and love and communication, and everyone need to to use their imagination. We talk a lot about this.
Your imagination, everything starts there, and we talk about to make something, make a good environment, to make friendship. Everyone has a need for making things. And then they start painting.
Catrine with Laila in Iran, where they held peace painting workshops for kids of all ages.
CATRINE ON STARTING PAINTING IN WORKSHOPS
We have a method to make them start. For instance. we always use wide brushes in the beginning, and we always have the same size in every board 50 x 70 centimetres, and they are sitting there in front of this quite big board. It’s ‘more easy’ to start. It’s not about the details. It’s about the colours and movements so it’s another way of starting.
CATRINE ON POSITIVE FEELINGS WORKSHOPS
We work with all ages. It can even be children who are two years old and then maybe they have their parents together with them or grandparents. And up to 20 30 years old. It’s very nice to be a mixed group with different ages.
I think it has something to do with the inspiration time we have in the very beginning to make everyone equal.
We focus on the nice things in life. It’s a positive focus.
They also take part in the inspiration time. Which colour do you like just now? Maybe in the evening it may be another colour. Everyone chooses and associates to the colours they choose. Yes. That’s the very beginning. It’s very important for them to take part in the inspiration time and in a way, we get known to each other.
Peacepainting in Iran.
CATRINE ON COLOURS AND MEMORY
We connect the colours to the body in a way.
Colours is visible light. And I always say what can we see when it’s the sun and the rain at the same time and then everyone says the rainbow. And I talk about in our bodies, we have a lot of water up to the shoulders……. In my head I imagine that we have a it becomes a lot of beautiful rainbows in our bodies this just like raindrops increase when it has been raining and the sun is coming and making a lot of diamonds in the trees.
And then we can talk about seven human needs. Everyone has and we connect it to colours. And to the body. Then everyone feels relaxing because we feel equal, and after this session we started, they started to give from their own life experiences, when they start choosing colours one by one.
So for instance one child can choose a colour. And then I say. “Oh, what do you associate with this colour today” and the child says “it this colour it reminds me about A trousers my grandfather used to use and I can see my grandfather is not alive any longer.”
So, you see it’s very personal what they come out with. So when everyone has given an association to the colour they choose. We have quite often we have been through all the human rights in a way.
It’s a kind of de- focused communication.
Yeah it becomes a very good atmosphere.
CATRINE ON HOW MANY PEOPLE?
10 is the best number. That is the very best. Quite often we need one to translate. It goes very well it’s not the big thing, because we are in this abstract language.
CATRINE ON CHILDREN’S MESSAGES
We have been Refugee camps in Lebanon, and we have had workshops, in other countries with children who lost all their relatives in war. And we can see that children who has this terrible experience in losing or their relatives in war, or some people who were close to them. They are really really wanted their painting to go out in the world. So we bring their painting out in the world and making exhibitions. So, the children and the youth can have the feeling that their messages are being heard in a democracy.
People who are taking big decisions that influence on a lot of people need to hear from children and youth. It’s a good inspiration for children and youth.
I remember one painting it was a really big flower and the earth was….full of zig zag – very hard. And the painting was called “to rise from the darkness” so it was it was really easy to see that the children really wanted to look forward to the future.
Peace Painting workshop in Iran, 2019
CATRINE ON DE-FOCUSSED THERAPY
It’s a kind of therapy, but we do not focus on it. Every time a painting is painted. It is a mirror.
And they are sharing what they have inside to the rest of the world, and they feel that “I have something important inside” that that people really appreciate.
So that is the environment we are making the workshop.
AMBIENT SOUND: 3. Kids-playing outside.wav
Art is a very good subject to use as a tool.
What if equality could be the normal way in acting and forming systems on the earth? It would be so interesting to see what would happen with um Ecology with Nature, with the wars and so on.
It’s so amazing to see who a like people are all over the world, and what they want to describe, which message they want to give it to each other.
We have been in a lot of different countries and cultures. Tunisia, Lebanon, North Korea, Philippines, and Sri Lanka. Poland, Russia, Portugal, Bulgaria, Finland.
It’s very alike, all over the world.
SOUND BRIDGE TO LAILA
Well my my name is Laila, last year. I’m an artist and I live in Finnmark, Northern Norway, in a little village outside Alta,. [00:04:51][9.7]
ON ALTA CITY PARK
I am working with the Alta city centre making an ice park at the moment.
I involve a lot of people in the projects like schoolchildren. 16 years old, everybody in Alta at that age make an ice sculpture. From the transport they move the ice, and then the builders build with the ice, and then professional artists and then, friends and sculptors from Russia come in to the project, and there are volunteers, there are people, who call me.
There is an architect office, all of a sudden is just growing and growing and growing, and what we’re doing is we are actually creating a park where you can spend time out of doors.
Little by little winter tourism has become very important. So, now there are tourists come along, they also sometimes ask if they can help and they participate.
And so it’s like this become this kind of meeting point, the whole park, of lots of people, and we start already working outside in January, and it’s finished in 7th of March.
And it is sort of growing and sometimes I don’t even know how many people are working there.So it’s interesting. But the main thing when I started the project was I think Alta should be a nicer place. The winter is really long and I used to really hate living here because it was so cold.
DIEGO ICE SOUNDS ON ALTA END OF EUROPE
Alta has two months of polar nights from from November until end of January. It is really dark with no sunshine. And we are five hundred kilometers approximately above the Arctic Circle, and Alta is situated by the fjord, not far from the Arctic Sea from the Barent Sea so it’s quite far north. And this 3 hours drive and you end up at North Cape.
So that’s the end of Europe. So you can’t get further north in Europe.
DIEGO ICE SOUNDS
Yeah So that’s where I live. You know sort of on the edge of Europe really cold
Laila On Play
When I was a child I loved being outside. I just. And I was never too cold because of course you have lots of sensible clothes on. So you just enjoy being out of doors. And snow and ice have for an artist and for a child has enormous potential for play and for fun.
You know you can create and you can build really fast, really big, or you can create little things and you can do what you want and you’re using your body all the time you are working so you get tired, but then you start again you rest a little bit and then it’s like, um,I don’t know. It’s really fun. People ask Why are you doing it? Why are you working like this? You are a grown up woman. Playing in the snow.
That’s the only way I can live here actually!
On not liking the cold.
You know I left Alta because just because I hated the cold, I went to Paris when I was 19, Working as an au pair in a family. It took me twelve years before I came back to Alta to live here.
Yeah first I was living in England. A little bit in in Holland, in Hungary, In Oslo, I was living in Bergen, and then I went to Lofoten and so little by little I returned to the north. But I was really really dreading the cold winter and the only thing I was thinking was I was longing to go away. And what can I do inside?
And then somebody asked me “Would you like to participate in an ice sculpting workshop?” And I said No, no I’m an artist, you know Ice is not a serious material for an artist.
Then I went anyway. And then they gave me this kind of really thick clothes like children wear, you know like a whole suit. Now really thick and big. And we went to this lake and there were people from the Ice Hotel in Sweden doing this ice course.
And they gave me this tool, really sharp tool.
And then there was the ice and then I just remember the first the sound of cutting into the ice. This “shhh” it was just amazing. It was just like hooked immediately because this has it’s such a nice feeling of just the movement of with a sharp tool into the ice.
And then all of a sudden ice transformed, it became really interesting.
ON THE MATERIAL OF ICE
I started to look at it differently, I thought you know it was first of all it’s interesting as a material because you could see on both sides. At the same time all the environment around it is reflected into the ice. So if you put an ice sculpture outside then all Nature is reflected into it.
And then when I was working more with ice I was started to reflect on the fact that it is water. You know it’s life. I am 70 percent water. This is hundred percent water. So it is only 30 percent difference between this block of ice and me. And every life is dependent on water.
So… So it came in a way from being a material that I didn’t take seriously it became a material that I don’t think there is any material as interesting for an artist.
And then the changes all the time with temperature lit… Slight changing time in change in the temperature. And it goes from ice to water, from and it’s all the time. From being concrete form to vapor, you know.
That’s why you when you put things in a deep freeze and you have to cover it cover it otherwise it dries out. So ice is drying out all this time, it disappears in front of your eyes.
Ice from Nature
In Alta we are so fortunate that it’s so cold that we go to a lake, and we take out the ice from the lake. So we don’t have to produce it. I mean the nature is producing it for us. [00:13:32][11.2]
The way the ice look like it. It depends on the temperature, that winter or that month. Before you take it out you can take it out when this really is day and night or leave it until the March is it up thicker and you can even take care of the ice so that it will grow thicker, and you can take off the snow that protects the ice. And then if you don’t take away the snow then the snow can push down the ice into the water and the water will come up and will form white ice on top.
So you’ve got two qualities of ice. Ice is all the time moving because there are forces, big forces is ice when it’s created. So there are cracks there are bubbles that little fish, even you could find leaves, and dog shit, whatever.
The water is never the same. You can take it out from a river.
1000 YEARS BACK
And then when you take the ice out then you can look at it and you can see Ah it’s been a cold winter or it’s been a mild winter and then you will see that’s yeah.
You Can see that. And then that’s how they can read. You know in Greenland when they drill big holes or in the Antarctic, to to do research, on one winter, you know. So we got one winter and we create from one winter. But they they have you know they can see 1000 years back and see how the climate the temperature and they can measure it. So it’s interest… So there are stories in the ice, you know.
I check the temperature every day several times a day. What kind of weather would it be and what I look at is is not if it’s windy or snowing or is it above or is it below minus. I don’t want to see the red. I don’t want it to be warm in the winter.
So because it means as an artist because it since we are working outside that our things that melting so that we have to try to protect it or whatever. And I can remember my childhood in March. Maybe I’m wrong but this is kind of memory I have that it used to be minus 10 during the day and minus 20 during the night.
This is sort of my memory and we didn’t. I remember because it wasn’t until end of March we would go up into the mountain, go skiing because it would be too cold to go skiing very far. So we will stay. Not so far from the house. And every single weekend I used to go skiing with my parents in the mountains. But we didn’t do that. We didn’t do that in March because March was too cold. And then now when I look, you know March is sometimes you have 8 degrees you can have like a warm spell in February. Eight degrees, really really really warm, maybe for a week sometimes, but not every year is like that. But that’s sort of the occasional year. And I can’t remember that from before you know.
And since I’m working with ice I’m really really sensitive all the time you know how what what is the weather like tomorrow.
DIEGO SOUNDS WARMING
In Kirovsk, Orenburgskaya Oblast’, Russia.
LAILA: [00:18:26] What I can see is that you’ve got trees growing higher up. Little by little there are new trees coming higher up right there before there were just mountains and rocks. So you can see trees are growing faster and higher. So it is getting warmer. It is getting warm. You can see that. [00:18:42][15.7]
ON PREVIOUS PROJECTS
9.00. As an ice artist, I remember when I really really took it it was actually when I brought 15 tons of ice to Copenhagen, in 2004. That was supposed to be the coldest week in Copenhagen. You know they used to have cold winters in Copenhagen before. [00:19:02][4.9]
So we would do this ice project doing Sami manifestations of Sami artists in Copenhagen. So we created it but it was so hot it was so hot the whole time. And it was like 12 degrees and just that night until the morning the wind has changed and shaped the ice and it was just disappearing but at the same time it was really beautiful. So then I started to interest in melting ice. You know what is happening to the ice that is melting. ´
And then I got into reading about the Tundra and I did a project for a festival outside Paris where I brought twelve tons of ice to Paris. It was next to Paris, to a city called Lime. And I made an ice circle of twelve tons of ice.
It was six metre diameter, and then put earth on top, and grass on top and it was melting.
Even it. It was 24 degrees on the opening night. It took like a month to to melt. And then a year after when I came back I could see the change of the different grass that was growing up.
Because the grass that we had left on top people would be stealing. You know so. So. And so when the ice was gone people took the grass and brought it back to the back gardens. And it was like a year after. There was a circle of new grass.
Sculpture from Crazy Saw Ice sculpting competition. Team- the Ice Queens!
Laila on how she started.
My first year I was doing ice sculpture, with just one star made of ice. I just remember I made a star. And that was my first ice sculpture. At the time because I just moved back to Alta, I didn’t have a studio. And I wish I had a studio, and I had all these plans in my head. I need to build a studio, you know. When everybody else had left the lake, I took the last block of ice, and I carried it back to my car, it was quite a big block of ice and drove home. And then I took my shovel and then I shovelled outside in a big heap a snow. And then I put on some lights. I put this block of ice, I put on the radio, and I said I got my studio, but a studio outside.
I don’t need to build a studio. I already got a studio outside.
DON’T LIKE THE COLD continued
All of a sudden I realised that it wasn’t the cold I was hating. I really liked the cold. I didn’t like ‘being’ cold. It’s really simple you know because that’s what people don’t like. They don’t like being cold. But if you is it’s it’s the clothing that’s important that you have good shoes you covered with wool underneath and you have proper clothes and then and then you are free when you’re outside. You can sit down on the ground, you can lie in the snow, or you can do whatever you want, you can sit on the terrace and have a glass of wine, you don’t have to sit inside, you can look at the stars and the Northern Lights or whatever.
There is always light!
THERE IS LIGHT continued
I remember I came back from Paris just before Christmas and my son came to get me at the airport. Well when I said to him driving through the snow covered landscape and there were stars and a little Northern Lights and God it’s light, it’s really really light, and he said “Mom it’s not like it’s dark.” There is no sun. It’s dark. And I said No no you compare compared to anywhere in Europe now it is really dark. It’s really dark. It’s black because all snow makes it light. You can see the landscape even when it’s dark.
This reminds me of my grandmother and I used to go into her house when I was little and she would sit in the darkness complete darkness, during the dark period. You know the polar night period and I wouldn’t. I would ask my grandmother why are you sitting here in the darkness and he said. Come come have a look. If when I’m in the darkness I can see the little light outside.
And if I put on the light I don’t see anything.
The snow and ice project, it gives sort of an identity to the young people, so that now everybody expects that when they are in 16 years old they’re supposed to do an ice sculpting course, one that the high school building department Transport Department they all enjoy and the art department they all take part, in this creating of the festival As long as well as professionals.
THIS YEAR- THE RIVER & ALTA AKTION
And this year we are doing a project about the river. Elva and that’s because this year it is the year of the wild salmon.
And then I thought that would be good to focus on the river, you know. The river is all cultures, you know agriculture, people’s lives are from the river. So we are making a big river going through the park full of live from from the mountain plateau. Until the fuel within the fjord will be an ice skating rink and it is also voyage from the Sami drum, until the fight, for the Alta river, Alta Aktion that was here in the 70s, ‘80s.
For five years there was this big battle against building out the river. Eventually they lost but the sound we gained. Well we as a Sami we gained our Parliament Sami Parliament.
Laila with her colleagues with Elisabeth Kristensen and Mari Charlotte Bottolfsen in Kirovsk, Murmanskaya Oblast’, Russia.
2019-2020 The river project and copper mining
The Norwegian government just decided to put a lot of waste from our copper mine decided to give permission to copper mining company can put it in the field not so far from here yeah. A copper mine in it up of yours. And then you think. How is it possible today with all the knowledge that we have. Do we need this copper so badly that we cannot think where to put the waste? Even if it’s a bit more expensive.
I think this river project that we’re doing, maybe people will think well it’s it’s still an issue, because we’re dealing with the environmental battle from the river of Alta. And this happened when I was young and you know so my father he was working for the environmental organisation. He brought me to do all these demonstrations and manifestations against building out the river. ALTA AKTIONEN no you should read it.
Life is diversity!
In Alta. There is a tradition for having a big market twice a year in do in November and in March exactly when the festival is so traditionally the Sami would come from the mountains.
To sell their stuff and the Russians would come and we would all meet and we. And now today is exactly the same. A lot of people from Russia come to sell their products and there are the Sami people selling their handicrafts or local produce, and making teas, or meat, or Thai people making making.
And there there is a guy in the van. He’s selling kebab. And I think he’s from Syria. After the meeting of the Samis, the Norwegian and then the Kvan, the Finnish people. So it’s a meeting on. The basis of the local people here are are a mix of people. We had a really long time ago. No now we got people I don’t know from 40 different nations living in Alta.
The identity of a place
When I talk about identity for me what’s interesting is is what happens now, that we can we can share and we share. We share the cold, you know doesn’t matter what kind where your father came from. If you live here it is cold, and You have to deal with the cold.
15.40 We also have been working a lot with Russian artists and this year. We also will have Russian students coming from the Arts School on Murmansk. So it’s really I’m really happy for that because in a time when when you are not so you we are all the time looking for faults. And how we cannot cooperate. I think it’s even more important for artists and people to actually to connect and try to still work
We have to to create a better future. It’s not possible to close your eyes to your neighbour. Not Possible.
The basis of what we are doing is actually. You know it’s cold. So if it’s if it gets warmer we can’t do this. snow and Ice thing. And it’s really strange because when I was young tourists came to visit the north to see the midnight sun came here. So that was not. There were no tourists at all in the winter period. And now it’s upside down. Because of that I think it is because of the climate change. All of a sudden people are interested in the cold because Europe doesn’t have any long winters anymore. So people come here and and discover that yeah.
We need to take care of the cold.
And for the local people it’s actually a resource, it’s it’s a part of our identity. You know imagine if we didn’t have any winter you know what would we do without the winter before we used to think what we do when we have the winter you know. So it’s it’s turned upside down.
I think the period when you see the most people are out of doors and spending time in the centre is actually during the festival, when we are making snow and ice out when it’s the dog sled race. So it’s one of the year time of the year when we build up everything that there are really a feeling of life. And things are happening otherwise I think it’s quite dead.
Because people staying indoors
On teaching kids
The most important work is actually you know like the teachers are doing. Or artists working we teach kids you know. That’s the the work that hasn’t got any recognition you know.
So if you are an artist and doing paintings and only thinking about yourself and put them in galleries, then you are a great artist, but if you work with kids, or you work with snow and ice or whatever then then then it doesn’t happen in that way. You see. And therefore I think a lot of artists would avoid exactly working as I do and the kids they’re just there, you know what I think is really really important for any artist to consider where they are, you know and be a part of where they are. I think that’s it’s like it’s like a duty. I feel I have a duty to give back what I’ve been given.
Outside with kids exploring nature
PLACE IDENTITY – ALTA AND STRANGERS
You know why do I do it? Yeah, I know the reason: I want Alta to be a better place than it was when I was growing up, that’s why I do this, because it’s it has been a very closed place. You you are skeptical to strangers you you’re not supposed to talk to strangers, and all that, and you and I always saw strangers it was the most interesting thing of all!
You know people who didn’t know what they were thinking and they were looking different and they were eating different food. I think all that’s interesting. It makes your life much more rich you know. So I think there’s not enough different people were not allowed to be as different as we are but at the same time we are being different. We are the same.
I really liked the fact that you don’t know who said that a stranger is only a friend that you don’t know yet.
If I was really realistic I wouldn’t let any of what I’m doing who would work with snow and ice and who would work with kids. Kids! You cannot be environmentalist and not think about people not think about the kids.
I think artist and doing art with children is quite important. And then doing it in a way that it resembles Play.
Land Art with children
In the autumn what I did is land art project with kids that were they were seven years old and every day there would be a class coming to the beach area in autumn. There is a beach and a forest is really beautiful. With lots of old pine trees.
And it was quite interesting to see because I have been in France and seen the little children going to the kindergarten, and then where they are in little squares with concrete and they play out and they are dressed like little women and little with skirts and short trousers, also like that in England.
And then you see this little Norwegian children. I think that made me really proud, because they are really sensible dressed, with high boots and and suits to sit on the ground, and they all prepared a little packed lunch, sausages, and they stay outside maybe even if it’s really really cold like it was minus 4 degrees or wind, , sleet and they didn’t complain, you know? They were just getting on with it and then they were grilling our sausages on the bonfire and they had all the equipment that they needed and they were all prepared and they were all really happy being outside.
So I think the kindergarten and teachers in this in the younger age in school are doing a great job with the kids being outside.
Actually I’ve I’ve read that that French kindergartens and and I come and are coming to visit Kindergardens in Norway, just to see how we actually manage to have kids being outside. I mean there are kindergartens and even here in the Arctic there are almost all the time out of doors, almost all day.
DIEGO SOUND KIDS PLAYING OUTSIDE
STORY OF THE BIRD.
LAILA: We had like a kickoff for the project at the high school with all the builders and the people from the Transport Department….
We invited the historian, to come and talk a little bit about the history of the river so that there were all everybody will have like a little rucksack with information, and and then he was telling me about something I didn’t know, that there is exists Alta. Is this the name of the town now. And the part where I come from it was called Elvabacken, and that it existed an even older name that was called Sortcots, and it’s the name of a bird in Norwegian its called Svennesnipa, so it goes is the name of a bird.
It is a bird that migrates. It migrates to the tropics from from from Lapland. And you don’t find this bird in southern Norway or in southern Scandinavia, so it migrates between Lapland and the tropics. And and it’s the woman that is the beauty of it has the nice feathers and she lays the eggs and she leaves the upbringing to the male bird, and she is really bossy, and she is if somebody is attacking, Then she is the one who defends him and the kids. But in the end she leaves and she goes off to the tropics again and she leaves them all the work with him.
And she also has several partners.
So it’s a world where it’s upside down. So it’s a little bit. So I just thought it was really funny that this bird has given the name to the place where I come from.
DIEGO SOUND: TANYA SUMMER GARDEN
Thank you for listening to this episode of Nordic By Nature, ON ART.
You can find more info on our guests and a transcript of this podcast on imaginarylife.net/podcast.
Catrine Gangsto’s website is peacepainting.org.
You can find Laila Kolostyák on Facebook, through the website, icecircle.info and her own website, lailakolostyák.com. That is (spells it)
Nordic by Nature is an ImaginaryLife production. We are also fundraising on panteon.com/nordicbynature. Please help us by sharing a link to this episode with the hashtag #tracesofnorth and follow us on Instagram @nordicbynaturepodcast.
The music and sound has been arranged by Diego Losa. You can find Diego through his website diegolosa.blogspot.com.
You can read more about Ajay Rasogi’s nature-centered mindfulness and the village homestays on foundnature.org. You also can follow the Foundation for the Contemplation of Nature on Facebook, and Contemplation of Nature on Instagram.
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In this episode ON INNER RESILIENCE, we hear four voices share how they maintain inner equilibrium. Firstly, we learn about nature-centred mindfulness practice from Ajay Rastogi, at the Foundation for the Contemplation of Nature in the Himalayan village of Majkhali in Uttarakhand, India. Then you will hear Egyptian conservationist Noor A Noor, who describes his own personal path into mindfulness – through his experiences of the 2011 Egyptian Uprising. Then Judith Schleicher explains how daily meditation has helped her with her conservation work, ever since she attended a 10-day Vipassana retreat in Peru in 2011.
Lastly, we meet Christoph Eberhard, legal anthropologist and practitioner of the Chinese and Indian traditional arts Ta Ji Chuan, Qi Gong and Yoga. Christoph believes that dialogue is at the heart of meaningful transformation- dialogue with oneself, with others, with nature, and the beyond.
Hashtags to copy: tracesofnorth, Deep ecology, Arne Naess, arnenaess, deepecology, ajayrastogi, nooranoor, judithschleicher, christopheberhard, ecology, conservation, resilience, UNSDG, The Nordics, decolonisation, transformation, bioregionaldevelopment, peace dialogue, sustainability, climate crisis, biodiversity, global challenges, society and culture, monikakucia, danielwahl, helenanorberg-hodge, satishKumar, extinctionrebellion, climateuprising, sitikasim, ajayrastogi, tanyakimgrassley, Sweden, swedishstyle, tomasbjörkman, karmaura, judithschleicher, universitycambridge, davidattenboroughhouse, cambridgeconservationists, egypt, ajayrastogi, mindfulness, foundnature, christopheberhard, peacedialogues
For translation into Spanish please click here.
Transcript episode 3: ON INNER RESILIENCE
Welcome to Nordic By Nature, a podcast on ecology today, inspired by the Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess, who coined the term Deep Ecology.
Naess used the term ‘self-realization’ to indicate a kind of imagined perfection, a process, and a goal for both for the individual and for community. This podcast: On Inner-Resilience combines Naess’ idea of Self realisation with a view of human equilibrium, but it should only be used if it includes a sense of inner joy and benevolence to the world. It can be defined by a number of characteristics:
Number 1. Inner Resilience is meaningful and desirable, but it can sometimes be painful. It is not synonymous with comfort. It is a process of spiritual maturity, where a person acts more consistently from themselves as a whole.
Number 2. Inner Resilience is a continuous process. It can be achieved through knowledge and learning, but it demands a consistent practice that includes the cultivating, communicating and sharing of compassionate values.
Number 3. Inner Resilience evolves new types of skills that are needed for transformation; including Empathy, Respect, Humility, Consensus-building, and Co-creation.
Number 4. We are constantly changing and cannot be separated from the planetary processes that we are part of. Our own health and wellbeing cannot exist at the expense of others, nor the biological or cultural diversity that is the nature of life.
Ajay Rastogi will begin by introducing the secular, nature-centred mindfulness practice, that he developed and teaches at the Foundation for the Contemplation of Nature in the Himalayan village of Majkhali in Uttarakhand, India.
Ajay Rastogi at the Foundation for the Contemplation of Nature, India.
Then you will hear the words of Noor A Noor, an Egyptian conservationist at the University of Cambridge who describes his own personal path into conservation and mindfulness – through his family, through music, and through the traumatic experiences of The 2011 Egyptian Revolution.
We will then hear Judith Schleicher. Judith explains how daily meditation has helped her with her conservation work, ever since she attended a 10-day Vipassana retreat in Peru 7 years ago.
Lastly, we meet Christoph Eberhard, legal anthropologist and practitioner of the Chinese and Indian traditional arts Ta Ji Chuan, Qi Gong and Yoga. Christoph believes that dialogue is at the heart of meaningful transformation- dialogue with oneself, with others, with nature, and the beyond.
This podcast is designed for you to listen with headphones.
I hope you can make some time to simply enjoy listening.
Hi my name is Ajay Rastogi.
And we live in the village of Majkhali. It’s in the state of Uttarakhand, in the Indian Himalayan region.
And it’s about 400 kilometres north of Delhi. And we overlook the high Himalayas. Many 6000 meters high peaks from maybe. I have been an ecologist and an environmentalist for a large part of my life.
The fact that we are unable to make big changes in the society which are needed for sustainability required that we also relook at the approach that we have taken so far in the environmental movements.
So, for that reason I was thinking what can be more transformative than a meditative practice, which can be done in nature.
Meditation is being considered as the methodology for inner transformation.
The contemplation of nature is done in a natural surrounding.
It’s a multi-sensory experience.
It helps because we are a biological organism and, therefore we have an inherent drive to connect with nature. It’s kind of we are genetically wired, so it is not that abstract as many people find many other meditative practices to be. So, it is a good beginning.
People can begin with it and then get to deeper levels of meditation whichever part they want to follow. But meditation in nature contemplation of nature is definitely an approach which can be done on a daily basis and it leads to that level of tranquillity and gives us the benefits of the meditation the compassion the kindness and the deeper connection to the natural law as well as to the social community around us.
At about 23rd minute a tranquillity factor causes deeper trigger or physiological relaxation. Which brings the body and the internal chemistry, in a much more regulatory and balanced way.
That’s called the relaxation response, and that’s what we are trying to achieve, also at the physiological level besides the psychic and other benefits, that the meditation will bring.
So, as we sit and observe with a soft gaze
One may not have access to such landscapes so it can be done indoors.
And it can be done with very simple objects of nature, then following the three steps of native contemplation that we have designed.
So the three steps simple three steps is observe nature with a soft gaze except with gentle detachment and send love with sympathetic attention.
Observe nature with a soft gaze, we accept the gentle detachment remaining. Not interested in finding details. Of course, the mind would wander here and there but as soon as we realized that we have gone further and drifted we can come back to observe nature with a soft gaze.
One additional element which is a very important element of Need contemplation practice is to let go and this happens by just as we sit down and begin our contemplation, we send love with sympathetic attention, we just remind ourselves of the gratitude the feeling of gratitude. And then we sit, observe softly with a gaze, and continue a gentle detachment.
The let go is not to make any judgment about where we are What are we doing. And this is a step which is a transcendental in nature and therefore it is very therefore itself a fundamental aspect of the practice that we are able to somehow transcend this call of judgment and thinking mind at least for a little while.
Noor A Noor:
My name is Noor Noor. I’m a twenty-eight-year-old Egyptian doing a masters in Conservation Leadership. Before coming to Cambridge, I spent the last 7 years managing Nature Conservation Egypt which is an NGO, working on the conservation of habitat species and local communities.
Growing up I I was a child of the city. My parents Were very active for social justice and for political rights and economic rights. However, they didn’t bring me into nature… it wasn’t part of my upbringing.
In 2011, Egypt saw one of its most incredible yet traumatic uprisings where hundreds of thousands of Egyptians went to the street to call for bread, freedom, and social justice. And obviously everything that stems from those three components.
As a result significant changes came about some of them were for the better but lots of them were for the worse. We were met with huge violence. Met with huge violence from the people that were in charge at the time specifically the armed forces or the army.
There was constant conflict between protesters that are calling for a complete transition to a more democratic,
Human rights-oriented government. And as a result…There was heavy persecution and Egyptians still remain heavily persecuted by the state.
Throughout 2011, myself as well as hundreds of thousands of other Egyptians who were taking part in these demonstrations, had to run for their lives. More than enough times.
To realize that that that life isn’t really as it seems once you’ve actually had to run for your life.
I had went from always being prepared to sacrifice myself for the cause to realizing that I am actually more useful let’s say, if I try to survive, and part of that realisation came the by spending time and nature for the first time.
I was spending a significant amount of time in nature and learning about nature and teaching nature as well as conserving nature as a part of my new jobs that I had assumed in 2012 and by spending more time in nature.
By understanding nature more I ended up understanding myself more. Bit by bit I ended up encountering mindfulness.
Which at the beginning I hated as a term because I felt it was very counter intuitive. The more I read up into mindfulness the more it really resonated. On a theoretical level, on a political level, and on a personal level. By spending time in nature by understanding how it works, by letting oneself be inspired and be healed by nature; That in itself is a mindful process.
Essentially one had encountered so much physical and emotional trauma in that one year whether inflicted upon myself or even worse seeing it inflicted on those that I cared about or even those that I did not know. But we share the common political ground. Accumulated traumas from that still are carried by myself as well as thousands of others to this day.
There’s no romanticisation of revolution there’s no romanticisation of Conflict and uprising. But I am absolutely grateful… because of how I ended up having to respond to these traumas.….. even politically How to better see how we can…be better as a holistically as a planet…. Get through the inevitable crises that we are facing and will continue to face at an exponential rate in the future.After the 2011 uprisings I was adamant on working in the field and I ended up getting a job managing an NGO working in nature conservation as well as working with a company that does educational environmental tourism and it’s a company called Dima. It made me aware of certain dimensions relating to our survival to relating to sustainability relating to the battles that we are trying to fight for justice.
I realized the importance of of Nature, and of the natural resources that we depend on.
What many people are realizing now is that all political and economic and even social dynamics relating to us as a species to us humans as a species are directly or indirectly related to our relationship with surrounding nature. The fact that we continue to separate ourselves from the things that keep us alive. Starting from our food all the way to even the air that we breathe in the oxygen that comes from that comes from other living beings and other habitats on this planet.
Our separating ourselves from the nature we depend on, is at the heart of some of the existing conflict over resources, as well as the trajectory that we’re taking towards the collapse of the systems that support us.
Political ecologies is excellent as a term in encompassing this. It says that…Whenever we look at nature and its resources, we need to think about the political, social and economic structures that govern nature. If we’re going to talk about its conservation.
And at the same time, if we’re looking at development; We need to think about the ecological processes that support. These social processes. ————————————————————-
To be honest, we’re all implicated.
The phone that I’m using now to speak with you. About sustainability the components that were used to make this phone are not sustainable. The coffee that I am sipping on at the moment is is it supposed to be ethically sourced but in the end, it’s probably come from somewhere very far away. That in itself, we’ve become so dependent on these things.
Back when I was 15, my father was imprisoned by the Mubarak regime. Or The regime that was in power in Egypt for 30 years. My father was sentenced to four five years in prison. At that time, I remember specific telling myself things like alright. You have a minute to feel whatever you want to feel
And then as soon as that minute’s done. Switch it off. Switch it off, go back continue about your day don’t revel in your head, just move along and I remember being 15 and telling myself these things. And while obviously that might not always be the best solution. I remember forcing myself to just to be able to disconnect from the anxieties and the fears in my head.
To be able to just continue to function. Ten years later when I found myself…. Acknowledging my anxiety for the first time, I realized that I’ve been breathing wrong my entire life. We’re not taught how to breathe when we’re kids no one tells you to breathe through your stomach when you’re a child.
In my last year of university I was I was studying political science and law and then my last year I got involved in a music project that made music out of garbage.
So recycling and upcycling waste to make music and to raise environmental and social and political awareness using it using music as as a means. That music project introduced me to the people that I ended up working with for the years to come.
I’m Judith Schleicher. I am a postdoc in the Geography department here in the University of Cambridge and I also work together currently as a consultant with U.N. Environment world conservation monitoring centre. I’ve always been interested in tropical forests the diversity the people who live there the cultural diversity biodiversity everything and trying to protect that and also understanding people and the relationship with them better. When I was doing my PhD I started meditating a lot and then when there was opportunity to work on the relationship between nature and people after my page that just seemed to bring all these things together.
Judith Schleicher at David Attenborough House, Cambridge.
From this location what we can see is concrete and a parking lot. And you know if that’s the environment people grow up and we even get less connected with age I think that not only has a very negative impact on our passive development in our personal growth and our society but it also means that in the future we might care even less about what we have left. I think what is particularly important is that we also look inwards we need to think about ourselves our own well-being and work on making the changes from within. And then we can make changes beyond that. And so I think those are the kind of things that really need to be part of our education system how we grow up. What are the things that really matter in our lives.
Children spend so much time in schools being taught so many things that are just involving our intellect in terms of thinking about it but they don’t really think about how do we build emotional resilience how do we think about our wellbeing how do we think about it own mindset. Really taking care of that is so important. And if we could make that a fundamental part of a person’s life when they grow up from where they grew up I think that would be a huge positive change.
I would love to see for example mindfulness a meditation being part of the normal school curriculum and then people start thinking about what is it that matters in my life. And what are the things that are important.
We really internalize all of those things and then we can also have the discussion at a much broader scale. As a community scale to society scale as a national scale of which the direction we want to go into. But it really has to start at a personal level. So. Many people are not familiar with it and they don’t really know what it means. They might as you said for example Buddhism whether they have religious connotations when it doesn’t have to.
It can be secular. Nothing to do with religion. Spiritual doesn’t mean that you have to but even one specific religion. It can be really challenging to work in conservation because you’re always fighting an uphill battle. Basically you’re always confronted with bad news and also the way often we talk about it is in a very negative way.
I was improving my fieldwork and lots of things were going wrong. And then my friend said who’s been meditating for a very long time. She’d started when she was a teenager and she said oh there’s this meditation course. Ten-day silent course coming up, and in Lima where are, It’s like why didn’t you just do it? I was like sure I’d never thought about what meditation is or anything.
So I was like Sure. And then one night I said I was like Why would I do that.
I just did this 10-day course without knowing anything about it. I didn’t know what meditation was. I had no idea what I would get myself into. I was amazing experience life changing. I mean in a 10 day course you go through so many things and ups and downs but every minute you put into it it’s worth it. I had so many positives but the strongest one was definitely this sense of inner peace that I’ve never felt that way before.
Not only just knowing but really feeling that happiness or contentment has nothing to do with anything external.
And of course, that’s things that we might intellectually know but really feeling it is a very different things and experiencing it. You know of course there is always daily struggles of internalizing it. And that will continue that knowing that is a very big gift to experience. I’ve done a few of these courses and every time at the end it’s just so nice when you haven’t talked for while.
For 10 days as your mind is just so focussed and so clear and you realize how we are impacted by all this chatter and so much information being fed into our brain all the time you really realize what the impact is. As soon as you start talking your mind just goes crazy.
One very important first step is awareness. So you know when you’re saying that you feel you become more sensitive but maybe you’ve just become aware of something that was always there as just that before you weren’t aware of it. So that means you couldn’t look after your body in the way that it needed attention maybe otherwise. You know. The same processes might have gone on is just that you wouldn’t have been aware of the impact it had on you. I mean I can totally connect with what you said about nature providing that space where you can develop all these things. Many of the things that I experienced through meditation of I guess they just came naturally in nature before. If I sit in a forest which is the environment I love, I feel never alone. I can feel alone be surrounded by lots of people are being in a non-natural environment. But I will not feel alone if I’m just in a forest and just being. Whereas in our society we always tool we have to be productive. We have to be doing we have to be doing things. It’s much more healthy to move away from that at least some time and just be be it with nature or be it with other people. And that is what ultimately creates contentment and happiness from within. And Nature provides the natural space for doing that.
Your mind is just in the moment.
The meditation course where I was helping over the years, so I was in the kitchen we were cooking 430 140 people. Which is it can be very demanding because you know cooking for so many people and very strict, strict time slots is probably what many people would call a stressful environment with people I’ve never worked together with but they were all meditators and they’re all aware or at least much more conscious about these things. And it was not only a work very well it was also good fun and we were great teamwork. So, if I could translate that into my day to day world everyone would be amazing.
I started meditation 7 years ago. I meditate daily at least one hour a day sometimes more. I mean it makes a huge difference to my day to day life. And it’s also made a huge difference of how I probably think about conservation.
Before I started meditating all that gloom and doom rhetoric sometimes can be really disempowering and make you feel just really difficult to think that you can really make a positive change in what if you don’t.
So that is very difficult sometimes to grasp. With meditation I also had a sense that you know we’ll be fine eventually, and nature will be able to cope whether humans were kept to cope. That’s a different question. I guess yes it made me more peaceful from within that I can do whatever I can in my possibilities to fight for a more just and more environmentally sustainable world. But I can be fine with whatever happens.
I’m Christopher Eberhard… I’m Austrian. Now, I’m based in the South of France, Archachon.
To put it in a nutshell like my whole life has been devoted to, um, I would say a quest for peace, or harmony; a living harmony.
So, it manifested on the one hand, let’s say more social sciences. I had a career as a legal anthropologist, between Law and Social Sciences, trying to see how we could live together in a more dialogical way, understanding each other and harmonizing each other a bit better.
And then the second aspect was like dialogue with inner dialogue and with nature and that especially expressed itself in my interest with the traditional arts especially the Chinese Internal arts and Indian arts like yoga.
For me like this inner resilience would be in this question of dialogue.
Dialogue is listening but it’s not only listening with your ears it’s listening with your heart. And even more than that is listening with your soul.
We can experience that in our very, very day to day experience it’s just like taking some time not starting to speak immediately taking five minutes or 10 minutes just to harmonize, before doing something.
Just letting the mind settle, being rooted in a certain way.
Sometimes people don’t want to do it, they say they don’t have time to do it, but actually just this sitting quietly, calmly, in a certain way completely changes the whole atmosphere.
And if you do it, you would find that people are much, much, more open to real dialogues, to listening to each other, to really sharing their experiences, than if you do it without that quiet time at the beginning.
So, you start to dialogue with another human being. Really dialogue, in the sense that you really wanted to listen to that person, and you, you let yourself be challenged, by maybe the world view that he presents or the sensitivity that he’s expressing.
While it may on the one hand be enriching, but sometimes it may be very shocking. You know. We, we may not really want to hear certain things, or we do not really hear certain things until we have heard them back a hundred times and then suddenly you’re like “Oh wow. There was something deeper than I thought.”
So when this happens it’s, it’s a kind of a challenge, also, some that leads to a second kind of dialogue which is the dialogue with which I call with ‘oneself;’ you start to become aware of what our, let’s call it invisible horizon of action and living things.
And for that actually we need the dialogue with others, because otherwise we can never become aware of our own personal window. And then when you start to deepen this dialogue with others and yourself by listening more to yourself. You also start to realize that actually you are connected to the nature all around you.
That in a certain way, once the sensitivity to listening has been opened up, well, you start to listen to the trees to the sun then the flowers to the to the clouds, in a certain way they talk to you.
If you want to listen, first you have to empty yourself, and then everything come and talks to you. The dialogical aspect of nature which starts to unfold. So, it’s a dialogue with oneself, with the others with the nature. And then there’s this other dimension which I call like beyond, whatever you want to call it, you know, these things which are beyond words and you cannot really express it, but which is also there.
Sometimes, when we talk about inner, we kind of separated or distinguish it from outer. For me, I would rather say that the experience of also entering in yourself, or entering in dialogue with nature or with the beyond, is more a process of creating links, where there was more links you may have had an idea of a feeling of separation, you know, you’re feeling separate from the others, and you’re feeling separate from nature.
Nature is more objects which are outside; the second world of objects. It’s not living reality.
Even some people… who just see them like objects and some robots which there, which behave in a certain way, but they’re not really persons that we interact with.
And the same thing with ourselves, and we may even ourselves not really…. We do our work. We do our things when our routines. But are we really considering ourselves as another living subject, as such.
There’s four dimensions —and you can start from any of these dimensions.
If you’re somebody who has been growing up in a very natural surrounding, maybe your first dialogue starts with nature. Some people they’re shepherds and they spend lots of time alone for months in the mountains. So probably for them the first kind of dialogue which would start is more like a dialogue with nature, and then the dialogues may come.
For people like me and more like a city person. And so, it’s more confronted with people at the beginning, you know. But the important point is to say that for me all these dimensions are always there. At the moment when we start to open one of these dimensions, dialogue of one of these dimensions, little by little we start to realize how everything is much, much, much more linked together than we ever expected.
It’s not just it’s always easy to go someone see what they don’t have is they don’t have that they don’t have that they don’t have that, and just construct them like the inferior version of yourself, but they can do the same thing, because from their point of view, you don’t have this and don’t have that and don’t have that and so on.
Wouldn’t it be more interesting, instead of trying to fill the other with your own projections, and your own ideas, to just listen, open up and then maybe discover all the plenitude the ‘other’ is. I just started to realize that our lives generally speaking sometimes very often a void to be filled.
You know, we, feel that we have to have a certain social status and we feel that we have to on a psychological level we want to achieve certain things and economical level, which is wonderful, as long as it is not something we just do because we need to fill our lives, and at the moment that we dare to maybe step back a little we may just find out that life is actually very rich and well these things may be happening without us trying to push too hard.
Plenitude means you start to realize all the relationships that you, you are knotting together, through your being.
Just like you have a physical body, considering like a modern western science, we are actually really children of the stars. I mean that is …all the elements that we made of are made in the stars, so we have actually a relationship with them.
So, we have this physiological level, but then we have our emotions, we have our feelings, we have our thoughts; in all these different dimensions are all interlinked. By the contemplation of outside nature, which we perceive as being outside, we actually establish a relationship, one which on the outside level may lead us to this feeling that we that we should not care for the environment because it’s our duty, but because of its beauty. And so, we establish that relationship with the outside nature.
But at the same time, contemplating the outside nature also actually refers us back to our inside nature. You can use the term ecological, but I would just say our, inner nature. What life is about. (laugh)
You are part of nature.
When I say nature, you know there’s nature, and nature there’s the visible nature that we see. And then there’s nature in the sense of let’s call what is the whole planet. And the solar system and the galaxies, and now they are talking about multiverses — all this is part of this other broader concept.
It really links, creating links where we didn’t see links, links where there was separation, little by little to see that things are so much linked, which is very important in the ecological thinking, you start to enter into this more holistic approaches to things because you realize you cannot just cut things into pieces, they’re always related and whenever you change something, someone always has an effect on the whole.
If you start practicing any Qi Gong, if you start practicing any movement, which you will do with the relaxed body, tasting what you’re doing, maybe doing it slowly, and doing it with awareness. Little by little what you will start to feel is what the Chinese often call Qi which is energy.
Again which is experiential, the one feeling that you may have at the beginning, is you will feel some tingling in the fingers or you may feel some warmth that will come, and then if you continue at some point you may feel it more inside, kind of a magnetic feeling. Sometimes you get somewhat like electric feel to it, just the quiet sitting and watching your breath…. Actually, even if you just do this but like you do it every day, and you do it for a couple of hours every day, and so on and so on– at the beginning you are very much in the psychological state. You’re just thinking of this and thinking of that.
And then at the moment, when these things start to settle a little –you like a glass, water and mixed and then it settles and becomes more clear and more transparent. When that stage starts to happen, things start to circulate in your body, that’s like basically what is the whole Qi.
These things are very real.
Christoph at the Foundation for the Contemplation of Nature, India.
So that brings me to the reaction to the experience. The culture we live in, now I’m talking well, city culture, you know like a technological society. It blunts us to a lot of our experiences.
If you live in nature, and you have to live to survive in with nature. Your senses are much much more refined than the kind of senses that we may have like you know living in the cities. So in a certain way we again we colonised our minds and even now I still realise how much my mind is colonised
Very, very, big learning process also…..because you start to realize I do have an innate intelligence, my body does understand certain things, OK. You have to put the awareness. It’s not that you don’t have to do anything. You have to put the awareness. You have to try to listen. You have to practice. It’s not just coming like if you don’t do anything. And once you know little by little to learn, to make the difference between what is your illusions, and your and what things are real, in those what you feel.
We are not gods, we are not the masters of nature, or the kings of nature, no we are just a part of it, a very humble tiny part it.
Humility, the importance of humility.
You recognize yourself as a wonder of the universe. It’s amazing. And the more humble you become, in a certain way, the more beautiful the whole thing becomes.
Thank you for listening!
Nordic by Nature Podcast is an ImaginaryLife.net production created with the support of the Nordic Ministries Please help us by sharing a link to this episode with the hashtag #tracesofnorth and follow us on Instagram @nordicbynaturepodcast. We’d love to hear your thoughts on our podcast. Please email me, Tanya, on email@example.com
We are also on Patreon if you would like to support us with a donation to keep this podcast going into a second series! See www.patreon.com/nordicbynature
If you are interested in Mindfulness and Resilient Thinking, please read about Ajay Rastogi’s village homestay retreats on foundnature.org, and follow the Foundation for the Contemplation of Nature on Facebook, and Contemplation of Nature on Instagram.
In the second episode On Survival, we have 3 strong voices who understand the need for radical, system change. First you hear the words of Monica Kucia, culinary curator in Warsaw, who talks about how to take the ego out of food. Then you will hear Design Leader Daniel Wahl, author of Regnerative Cultures who speaks about bioregional development. Finally, we hear Helena Norberg-Hodge, author of Ancient Futures, and founder of the NGO Local Futures.
Transcript to the Podcast
Tanya’s Voice: Welcome to Nordic By Nature: ON SURVIVAL.
It’s been a hot summer with amazing electrical storms and unpredictable weather. I’ve been at home reading about the Norwegian Philosopher Arne Naess.
He defined the term Deep Ecology and offered a serious vision for systemic change.
Number 1. Humanity cannot survive without Nature. We need to design all our systems and concepts around that notion. Our current economic model of perpetual growth, for example, is not viable, nor useful for the dignity of mankind.
Number 2. Diversity is life. We need to cultivate biological and cultural equity locally, as well as reducing carbon emissions globally. Our co-existence with nature is dependent on the equity of our global community and the legal and moral right of every living being to exist as part of an ever-changing eco-system.
Number 3. Organizations must review their societal purpose and enable sustainable livelihoods. Our governments and organisations need to declare a global climate emergency and mobilise together.
You will hear three people working towards this change.
First, culinary curator Monika Kucia, explains how she takes the ego out of serving food. Monika runs a farmer’s & producers’ market in Warsaw and hosts cultural food events that connect all types of people.
Then you will hear from design leader and educator Daniel Wahl. Daniel’s book Designing Regenerative Cultures is must for anyone interested in transformative innovation.
Lastly, you will hear Helena Norberg-Hodge, author of Ancient Futures, a seminal work that compares the way of life in the Himalayan region of Ladakh, before and after globalisation.
I hope you have time to sit back and relax and listen to this podcast with your headphones.
My name is Monica Kucia, and I’m a food writer and food curator so I design culinary events that are also artistic and have some social aspect.
Everything I do seems to be around food, but I find more and more when I get older that it’s everything is actually connected and if food is the medium that I use in my work it’s never only about food.
It’s always about connections relationships is about art is about history.
It’s about family and this what really makes my heart beat faster if I see that I can I’m able to join all these aspects around a table, and around the taste around experience of eating or cooking.
I think I was sort of born with this intuition like you know you. So, I started to being interested in food very early. Like when I was a teenager. And then when I started writing about it like 20 years ago, it was just fascinating that it’s so different in every region, and also it’s very different in every personal story. Probably you have a completely different story than I have.
We actually can say that there is the food voice. There is something that you express about yourself through the food. So this is what I started exploring probably 13 years ago when I published the first book. It’s like the sun and everything else is like sort of moving around it.
It’s sensual because it involves all our senses, and also it connects people because it’s about feeding and feeding is giving the energy. So it’s about the flow, how it goes between the people.
Everywhere I go, I meet food people, I always connect with them instantly. They have similar sensitivity or a similar approach to many things. They are more open maybe. So it’s a big tool for making friends, for talking about anthropology, for also having fun and enjoying yourself.
It is everything in one, you know! (laugh)
As humanity, as people we went wrong somewhere. Probably in the 20th century or even maybe before that when there was the industrial revolution. I would blame the mass production basically and the greed and indulgence.
It’s more now about pleasing oneself than about feeding myself. You know it’s not always that if I want to please myself it’s actually good for me or good for other people or good for the planet.
So because we have means and we have the global system we can have any food we want.
And in the end it’s not a good thing. It destroys nature.
But what I’m saying is that we went wrong and maybe there is no way back. But what we can do now is make our personal choices that are wise and we should use our knowledge and awareness to stop the process of destroying our home which is the earth.
So, we started doing the farmer’s market in Warsaw in April.
We prepared it for a long time. And the idea is to bring the real food with the real people that are making it to the people who live in the inner city.
We have some markets with organic food in Warsaw, we have markets with producers’ other markets.
In this area, where we started it, in Praga, Centrum Praskie Koneser, there is nothing like that. So we thought that it’s good to give it a shot.
And for me what’s really important is that there is a relationship possible, that you can talk to the person who produces the food. So, it changes our attitude, and the way we are used to do shopping, nowadays, that you just come to the shelf and pick whatever you want, because you are the king, the king of the supermarket.
And here is a person who’s touched all these sausages or fish or veg or cheese or anything else that we have there with their own hands.
This is personal. Shopping becomes personal. In this situation that you just come you get to know these people. It’s more for me. It’s very important to respect these people so just to show them respect because they work very hard and they give us very good quality healthy food.
For me it’s a work of turning around the idea of shopping. It’s more about me coming to these people to get my food to feed my family rather than being the picky gourmet customer who just looks for the best product.
I think we should really support each other, and we should really change the proportions in my opinion. This is how it should be. So, the village feeds us so we should appreciate them, and we should respect them.
We don’t value food anymore because it was so cheap. It can be so cheap, and it’s so easily obtainable. We are facing the fact that it might change during our lives like that the food will not be that easily obtainable
I had a grandmother in a little village, and she worked really hard because it was like a small farm and everything was from this small farm. Everything we had what it means that there was no trash. There was no garbage. Nobody would ever take any trash because there wasn’t any.
There was a shop in this village, and it was open twice a week for I think four hours. There was no plastic, so I remember buying like notebooks for writing. There was not much in this shop so they would produce everything for themselves exchange with the neighbours. And it was very hard life. It was not fun.
Waking up at 5:00 in the morning. It’s not something that we would regard as this nostalgic sentimental vision of the village.
So, what I’m saying is that I understand that we have become so comfortable like in the cities like this probably two percent of older people in the planet that we have the access to the goods from all over the world.
And we don’t have to really work with our hands obviously nowadays they have machines they have resources from the European Union they get money is very different.
The Simple Life is hard at the simple basic one small farm with two cows and one pig farm.
It’s just hard life.
Therefore, we should appreciate and respect the people who still take the effort and they actually do it with their own hands, rather than eat the artificial food becomes less and less actual food. It becomes a product.
It becomes processed item that has no connection with where it comes from. Usually we don’t know what it comes from. We don’t ask this question when we buy. I don’t know readymade pizza. You don’t really ask the questions Where do the ingredients come from.
Climate change. This is something that I think most people don’t really take seriously.
This is us being lazy. It will finally probably kill us if we keep doing it.
Cooking some potatoes and some carrot. And it doesn’t take that long.
This is more about our approach. People make choices and sometimes it’s more important to do something else.
But still I observe here in Poland that we have had so much ready-made food, in the last five years that I have never seen before.
Still with this huge interest in cooking in food in the culinary program’s culinary books, all these like celebrities there is more and more ready-made food cooking becomes a luxury. In a way with our farmers market is a struggle. I would say.
We need to convince people that it’s better to come there to get to know these people and come every week. To have your ex straight from the farm, to have your meat if you eat meat, and to have other things straight from the people. But this is the effort. And this is in your mind.
This is how you see yourself how you would see the community how much you connect.
I never would say that food is the most important thing, because people can be extremely healthy and destroy their relationships destroy the planet destroy themselves in different aspects, like emotionally or spiritually.
So, what I’m saying is that food is just one of the factors.
I don’t believe that anything can be taken apart like separate from other things. Food is something that everybody needs every day. True, but if you live in harmony and I’m not saying I live in harmony but I know some people who do they have this sense of proportion.
So, there is the place for food but they are not crazy about it.
We want the children to be healthy so they shall eat healthy food.
But you know when you don’t respect yourself and don’t mean good for yourself you will never understand why do you need this healthy food.
It’s about the relationships you have. It’s about the family you create friendships.
If you mean good for yourself and for the others. If you are an openhearted then you eat the food that actually nourishes your and is good for you. And you are aware of all the aspects because you are aware.
So, food is actually a part of mindfulness I would say as much as anything else, like sleeping, loving food just reflects our attitude towards us towards the planet towards other people.
This is the same is about clothes, making clothes, buying new clothes, new shoes.
If we realize how much effort and pain and struggle there is behind these foods or the clothes or other goods that we are getting if we realize how cruel it the businesses, then we would really make different choices probably as consumers.
So, it’s not just white western world. It’s more about economic power.
This why if you want to be fair it’s better to buy locally because then if you know what it comes from you can say that you do honest choices.
Yeah. Otherwise you never know.
So, this why coming back to these communities.
I’m for example in this group on Facebook that it’s only with my neighbour it’s like not neighbours in my building because I know them personally.
But like in the district in the area I think this is the future. There is a lot of exchange. There is a lot of no money business.
We have the currency. Avocados or wine aren’t the currency, something that we all want.
More like a barter. But there is also the currency.
This is something that it’s so informal.
There is no bureaucracy.
I just lend you my bike because you need, it and I trust you, and you will give it back after two days, and I trust with that.
And this is normal behaviour and It’s nothing new. Like people have lived like this forever probably.
Because we depend on each other.
But what I’m saying is that with the global globalization and then with this problems that it brings with itself, the only solution is to get back to these roots, to something that is real and it’s just close to you and you can touch it. I just believe that the future is sensual. Getting to make stuff with our hands, really.
I believe this is the only rescue.
We will never create a proper paradise probably here. But when I’m creating my events the things that I’m doing with the food, around food, connected with culture and rituals and some traditions and history.
I just see that people want to have something real.
This is really what wakes them up.
It brings real value rather than just fun or entertainment. What I believe and what I’m doing is to get people involved rather than present something. So, they are your words and they can judge it.
If you are a part of something, then you feel responsible for it, because it depends on you. It’s up to you. You are a participator. And this is what I believe also in gastronomy, like, this why I work with the village women with homeless people, with the like really unknown cooks.
What I’m saying is that when you have the famous chef and the creation of course you relate to this person or to the dish you can get very touched very emotional.
But on the other hand, you have this chef who wants to be famous and then you have the customer who also wants to be regarded as of a higher status because they can eat in this place because they have money.
This is about ego.
All of it.
This is not a simple exchange.
It’s more about the status and about the whole spectacle but meaning like “showing off.”
What’s more important, more interesting to explore, is all these worlds of other people who also feed their families, feed other people, but they don’t do it to show off.
We’re all makers and we are all capable of doing things.
I also go to the little villages to listen to old people who still sing the old songs like real folk music.
I’ve been told that in the traditional singing the songs is more most important, so the song goes through the singer. We are only passing it through.
Also, the recipe the traditional whatever, spaghetti carbonara, or Polish broth or Pierogi or whatever; we are just transmitting.
We are the stewards, and this is about not being too humble because you can be a great steward, but you don’t own it and here it is the song doesn’t belong to anybody. It belongs to the community and the singer has the privilege to sing it.
When there is less ego than you just enjoy the process because you are connected, and you are a part of something bigger than you.
And I think that this is what really makes us feel really safe, like beings, that we are connected, because this is what we all want, somewhere inside.
In the food area it’s also for me important to remember that food is about actually about feeding you feed your family.
You feed yourself your feed your community in whatever way you can because you can feed them with water so you can feed them with films you can feed them with food.
Especially in Polish. There is the word in Polish, Poshivina, it is more like ‘giving life’ and it means food. This is very important for me to remember this. I’m just serving. I’m serving something but you respect me for serving this to you. There is no power game in it.
This is how I tried to create the events and… and I have had this experience for several years now that people need it.
I don’t believe in the fixed national, nationality like in the way that my identity is solid, because I’m the traveller and everybody’s a traveller.
If my life is a journey, then I’m changing. I’m just an inhabitant of the earth, basically, at the moment.
Anything is sort of solid like a monument it’s never real. And if something is real nobody will take away it from you. It’s impossible.
We are flowing with whatever is happening through the history. And please remember that kitchen is something that never stops. It’s always changing.
If we say about traditional cuisine to what point do we refer?
What year? What period? It’s like telling fairy tale.
It’s constantly changing because people bring products because we are omnivores, so we eat everything.
It’s constantly changing.
There is no other thing that changes so fast as cuisine, as the food to world.
I’d rather say “Kitchen in Poland” than Polish cuisine.
People are scared and they need to hang on to something, because they don’t want to accept the fact that it’s all about insecurity.
This is also about the ego.
Nature will win anyway.
Nature doesn’t need us. It’s not like that we aren’t an important factor for an age. If you watch Chernobyl. Yeah? it’s growing back. So, the nature will deal with this problem when there is not more humans.
Maybe we are coming to a disaster. I don’t know.
But also, only my intention matters.
So if I do the right thing as much as I can do I try hard.
It’s about my heart.
It’s not about anything else.
I’m not optimistic for humanity. It’s about system. It’s about the big money that is behind these things that are happening, that took us to this point where we are.
This is about fossil fuels. This is about global politics.
The system is just making it more dangerous for the planet.
The ego is the centre, or central problem is the ego.
Daniel Christian Wahl
My name is Daniel Wahl. I used to be a marine biologist, got disheartened with reductionist science and lack of including other ways of knowing into the way we do science, and ended up doing a Masters in holistic science at Schumacher college.
At that point, I realized the power of Design in putting this new holistic world view of Gaia theory and Goethian and holistic science interaction, and have been on this path of a sense of exploring how we can redesign the human presence and impact on earth within our lifetime, so we can actually have a future as a species, because we are currently facing the possibility of short term human extinction, if we don’t fundamentally change our ways.
Life is a planetary process. And we are part of that planetary process.
I work a lot now within with the term regenerative design and regenerative development.
Sustainable being something that is really ways of doing things that don’t add any more damage to the system.
And restorative and regenerative, going beyond that, and actually trying to undo the damage that we’ve done over so many decades and centuries of very unsustainable practices.
So, it’s very much about finding solutions that come out of ‘place.’
That attuned to the story that the place itself wants to tell, and the people who have lived with it for generations. But it also is central that it’s about enabling their capacity – of the people who actually live in that place to respond to change as in an inevitable.
My belief is that design has a huge part in making that possible.
Well, the process of the United Nations responding to climate change has been painfully slow.
With the Paris breakthrough, there’s been some form of commitment of staying under two degrees average warming globally. But more recently the IPCC has revised that, and has said that it’s necessary to actually stay below one point five degrees. The reality is we’re not on track at all.
We’re on track to six seven eight degrees warming which basically would mean the unravelling of ecosystems around the globe and the end of civilization as we know it.
The most recent report actually it was November 2008 in gave the world 12 years to fundamentally respond to this crisis. But I think that again the IPCC has a tendency to be conservative, so they don’t get criticized. And 12 years is too long of a window of opportunity to give ourselves.
I think Antonio Guterres the Secretary General of the U.N. in September last year was probably more on the mark by saying that if we don’t respond within the next two or three years, in the way that is unprecedented in terms of international collaboration, then we might have triggered runaway climate change to a point that even if we decide afterwards to do something about it, it would be too late.
We don’t even know half or more than half of the species yet that exist. Particularly the species in the soil microbes. We’re just at the beginning of cataloguing them all.
And really that’s where soil fertility starts, and with it the foundations for higher lifeforms.
It’s really understanding that every single species does matter and has a role to play in creating this collaborative symbiotic system that is basically life as a planetary process.
And we’re part of it, and we’re completely dependent on it.
I strongly believe in the power of design.
I think ultimately, it’s about design as human intentionality expressed through interactions and relationships. It covers product design but it also covers other more complex issues like monetary systems, transport systems our whole economic system and even the way we do research in the different academic disciplines.
There’s a design decision at the beginning of each discipline. So, basically any act human intention has a design element in it.
In that sense, the most powerful design intervention is the meta design intervention of changing people’s world views and value systems, and the stories we tell about each other and in our relationship to nature. When you shift that then our perceived and our real needs shift.
And with that our intention shifts in everything down stream changes.
I think design is powerful and designers very often oversell it, and most design schools still haven’t actually woken up to how critical design and deep ecological design thinking could be to the survival of our species.
There are a lot of companies out there who are supplying things we don’t really need or they’re supplying them in a way that is based on programmed obsolescence and turnover of products.
And I don’t think that that kind of business practice has a future.
I think we need to create much more durable products that much more easily repairable at a local level.
But we also need to create products that are to some extent, the components are more recyclable. But really if you go deeper, you realize that most of the materials we make things out of, we’re going to run out of sooner or later.
So, all that thinking around Circular Economy and two loops in the Circular Economy diagram with a cradle to cradle diagram, the industrial metabolism and the biological metabolism, they’re really just concepts.
Ultimately, we’re going to have to shrink the industrial metabolism because most of the materials in that cycle we won’t be able to recycle forever.
So, one of the big oversells around that is this concept of upcycling. It doesn’t actually work to up cycle things indefinitely, unless you have a free source of energy and there is no such thing.
We’re really needing to fundamentally shift our material culture towards more bio-materials that are regenerative grown, in the region, for the region, and based on the resources that that particular ecosystem has to offer.
It has to be done in such a way that it doesn’t destroy the rest of the ecosystem. So, the contrary, it has to be done in a way that it regenerates the ecosystem.
Basically, these companies are beholden to their shareholders. They operate within a system that is fundamentally exploitative and degenerative. Then that system is our current economic system.
The way that we’ve designed money and the way money is created and the way that we have differential interests on deposit and loans and therefore create an economic playing field that is based on a zero-sum thinking, so basically on winners and losers. And while we have a system like that, and we have that necessity that a national economy needs to grow at a minimum at 3 percent per annum otherwise it collapses,
There are a lot of top-level sustainability minded CEOs that really do care, and yet they are stuck in a system where to some extent, most of what they do is moving deck chairs on the Titanic.
Ultimately, they really need to consider that maybe the assumption that these companies, just because they’ve been around for 100 years, have to be around for another hundred years, might be an erroneous assumption.
Maybe some of these companies actually have to program for their own… or design for their own death in ways that they can then re-emerge in like a phoenix from the ashes, as knowledge networks that help more regional production and regional consumption [00:09:39] With the innovation and development that they’ve been very good at.
That’s at the CEO level.
But for a lot of people who are working in these companies, who are beginning to see that their children are not going to school on Fridays because they’re claiming they’re right for a Liveable Future. Or they see London being disrupted by the Extinction Rebellion and more and more people getting more and more verbal about the fact that it’s five past 12.
We don’t even have a guarantee that we are still going to be able to make it if we do things fundamentally different now.
Most people today are still somewhat stuck in beginning to realize how profound the changes are that we are now called to do individually, as communities, as nations, and as one human family. And at the same time making sure our kids are in school, and that we can pay their bills, so the food’s on the table.
But we are facing transformative change in a way that these incremental innovations, and these incremental changes, just aren’t going to make it in time. So, hold onto your hat.
We have to relearn how to collaborate.
Moving from competitive advantage to collaborative advantage. And realizing that we’re all in this together. Living Spaceship Earth is in danger of collapsing on us.
We’re living in a dream-nightmare, that that tells the story that was somehow separate from nature that culture and nature are not one.
I’m increasingly thinking that working by regionally is the scale at which we can make the biggest difference.
Bio- regionalism has been around since the late 1960s, and this whole concept of re habitation re inhabiting our bio regions, and reconnecting to the biological cycles, the ecological cycles of those regions,
Increasingly also the conversation about what would sustainable cities look like– Understand that it is a reconnection of the city back to its region. So, I could definitely see that there could be models developed in Sweden.
It’s the same with a lot of regions that people have strong allegiance to their particular region.
And so, I think that’s a great starting point because one of the core things about regenerative development and creating regenerative cultures is that they are born out of the uniqueness, the bio cultural uniqueness of place.
They are sensitive to both the ecological and biological uniqueness of the ecosystems they inhabit, but they also are sensitive to the historical cultural dimension, of how people have lived in relationship with nature, and with the elements and with climate, and with the patterns of that particular place, and I think it makes …makes a lot of sense to rekindle those regional identities, but to not do so in a sort of parochial “Let’s go back and pull up the draw bridges, and create lifeboats in a turbulent world” But as understanding that that is the scale of action for a globally collaborative effort to heal the planet, that we have raped and pillaged, basically, and in doing so possibly also heal ourselves, heal our relationship to each other and heal the relationship between humanity and nature.
I know that in Costa Rica there’s a movement to create a bio-regional regenerative development case study in one part of the country. And actually the whole country is looking at adopting regenerative development as.. as their main development strategy.
Things are shifting. —————————————–
Luckily, I also see that there’s a confluence of movements in all walks of life like people trying to transform business from within.
In recent years the Capital Institute started initiatives to work with people in regions to create these “regen” economy hubs at the bio regional scale.
This movement is growing and the different players unnecessarily fully aware of themselves.
I’m also thinking of the Planetary Health Alliance with network of universities and research institutions around the world doing the research and looking into the connections between planetary health ecosystems, Health Population, Health and individual health.
We need to really understand the intrinsic value of our life and planetary health to the whole community of life.
And then there’s organizations like Common land in the Netherlands who’ve developed functional strategies to do large scale ecosystems restoration, working with local farmers, and local landowners, in specific areas around the world, and transforming entire regions that are between 500,000 and a million hectares.
The momentum is building.
I think the next two years are critical. I’m still hopeful.
We are actually going to see this transformative change to become a global emergency response.
It’s only now that we’re slowly beginning to link up the people who have pioneered works in sustainable cities and sustainable architecture and in more bio-materials construction methodologies and so forth with new and pioneering in buy materials and product design, with all the wonderful work that is in kind of Earth Care and earth healing, eco-therapy, from permaculture to agroforestry to analogue forestry and all these other techniques that have been around for a while and have been improved over years and years of experimenting.
We also have lots of case studies to point out that we can if we choose to have a positive impact on the environment that we inhabit. There are plenty of places around the world where large scale regenerative agricultural projects have shown impressive ways; the before and after that is possible in 15, 20 years.
I am thinking of the Lös plateau example that John Low (?) was now founded the ecosystems respiration camp Foundation reported on in the early 2000s. In China, an area of hundreds of square kilometres was being transformed from arid eroding semi desert, to lush terraces that are bio productive with the springs coming back and the tree cover being permanent again, and basically increasing the carbon content in the soil, drawing down carbon from the atmosphere, improving the bio productivity of the area, improving the hydrology of the area, improving the amount of food that it generated and so on.
These things are possible, and there are examples all over the world.
The way that life creates conditions conducive to life is by continuously experimenting with novelty, and so things keep changing. Our planet sits within larger systems as well, that also affect how the conditions on our planet change.
There is no destination sustainability. There is no destination regenerative culture. It is a continuous community-based process of learning of how to adapt and how to respond creatively to change.
[00:20:13] To do so in ways that we enable people to discover their own essence, their unique contribution to making the system more vibrant and more vital and more valuable. But in all levels of value. not just in economics to economic terms.
We all have to walk that path. That is what life is all about. To be adaptive, resilient and regenerative — respond to change.
I’m Helena Norberg Hodge and I’m the director of Local Futures, an international charity. For the last almost 40 years I’ve been promoting what I call ‘decentralization’ or ‘localization’. And that’s because I had the experience of working in cultures that had not been affected by the global market. Cultures like Bhutan and Ladakh, and later on a lot of experience with places like Laos and many parts of the world.
In the mid 70s, Ladakh or Little Tibet, it was a part of the world that had not been colonized nor developed in the modern era. And there I found people who were still providing for all their basic needs from their own resources producing a range of things, some vegetables, grain, they kept animals there had their own architectural tradition of local materials. They still wove their own clothes from their own wool. And I started at first working on a dictionary, and travelled, actually walked through the whole region, it’s about the size of Austria. But in this high-altitude desert there were small villages, that survived by irrigating the desert from glacial melt.
As I got to know the people, I found that they were the most relaxed, the most joyous, the most vibrant people I had ever met.
I also saw that the opening up to the area to outside development was beginning to bring rapid change.
So, I ended up starting projects to demonstrate an alternative to conventional development, which among other things included demonstrating renewable energy as an alternative to fossil fuels.
I also had my eyes open to the craziness in the global market.
So, I literally saw in a very short period after the area was opened up have having been sealed off for a long time. But that had travelled for more than a week over the high Himalayan mountains coming in and being sold for half the price of butter that came from the farm next door.
So, this opened my eyes to then doing studies around the world as I was invited to speak or to start projects similar to the one in Ladakh. So that included Bhutan. I was in parts of Africa, invited to Mongolia, to Burma Myanmar, to Laos and everywhere I went. I would keep my eyes open for this. What was happening with the global market and what it was doing to the local production and local producers.
And I found the same pattern; in Mongolia where they had 20 million milk producing animals, in Ulan Bator, most of the butter came from Germany.
In Kenya, I found butter from Holland crossing half the price of local butter and as I returned to Europe. I found the same thing.
I became a passionate advocate of the need to strengthen local economies worldwide.
Small producers; farmers, fishermen, forest workers that were producing a range of things from diverse, adapted species of animals, and plants were being replaced by bigger and bigger monocultures. And they were being pushed off the land into bigger and bigger cities and in those cities, there were fewer and fewer jobs.
Traditionally in these cultures there had been no such thing as unemployment.
As people were driven off the land into larger and larger cities, all of them created through huge investments in fossil fuel-based infrastructure, there was the beginnings of tensions between people who had lived side by side in more local economies, based on local resources where they were interdependent.
Now suddenly they were dependent on anonymous institutions lost bureaucracies.
And there was this dreadful artificial scarcity of livelihoods of jobs.
After only about a decade of opening up the local market the local economy to outside development these pressures led to violent conflict– to bloodshed. People had lived together side by side for generations.
Most people have never experienced intact local economies.
We have a historical development where colonialism and slavery already destroyed more diversified self-reliant local economies. So, once you have destroyed the fabric of interdependence local interdependence fabric or more diversified production, based on biodiversity, then it’s very hard to see a clear path towards localization.
Most people are not looking at the global system.
This is not about good guys and bad guys. At some level we all know that we depend on the living world, we all know that the real economy is the earth. But there is very little clarity I think about the way that we have lost sight of that.
Politically left and right in this regard is completely meaningless.
Finding a way back to a genuinely sustainable way, will require recognizing first of all that, that food is the most important production product that we have. It’s the only thing that every person needs every day. The only thing.
To allow a system where governments are continuing to subsidize greater and greater distance between each individual and the source of their food. That that inefficiency is responsible by far for the ecocide that we’re witnessing.
We have today a system that has allowed this to go so far, that countries routinely import and export the same product.
The US exports about a billion tonnes of beef and turns around and imports about a billion tonnes of beef …. The UK exports as much butter and milk as it imports. Right now, the UK is exporting 20 tonnes of bottled water to Australia. Australia is exporting 20 tonnes of water to the UK.
On top of that in this global food system we now have big business, being basically condemned to roam the world for the cheapest labour and that means that they will fly fish from Norway to be de-boned in China and it’s flown back again.
Apples were flown from England to South Africa to be washed and flown back again. This is going on, on a massive and increasing scale, while we talk about climate change.
At the same time the emissions from those planes and giant container ship that are shipping things back and forth. Those emissions are not even calculated.
This is not about some…one evil corporation or that every CEO is evil or that every government is completely self-interested.
This is about blindness to the workings of a global system that we are simply not looking at. And it requires effort.
We need to look at the trends from a global point of view but look at them on the ground.
Local governments are responding more to the needs of people and the needs of the natural world.
Both people and nature are diverse. This is a fundamental principle of life. A fact.
And we change from moment to moment.
This is true of every plant of every animal and everything that lives.
We must change the economy so that we do not destroy that uniqueness and that life.
What is wonderful is that from the grassroots and very often through just individual initiatives, people have had enough experience, there are a whole proliferation of positive initiatives that when you analyse them from a structural point of view, you see they are about localization. They’re about reconnecting production and consumption and they’re about adapting and respecting the limits and the needs of the living world.
When we made changes to the food economy, we’re making very fundamental very important changes.
People care most people care in every position. We want to do the right thing.
Even in some of the newly emerging hubs for localization, towns like Portland, Oregon, or ‘here I am now’ in Byron Bay Australia. People are moving there because there is more human scale community interaction. People are known more for who they are what they do what they think their values.
So those are far more attractive places to live.
The wonderful thing about localizing is that there is a structural relationship between shorter distances between the market and the farm so that the local market, the market closer to the farm, not only accepts diversity but demands diversity.
It can’t use 20 tons of straight carrots. It becomes economically interesting for the smaller farmer, or even for a bigger one that decides to localize, in order to survive economically, to start diversifying.
So I know of examples of farmers in America that were you know had been pressured to grow monocultures of tobacco almost all in or near bankruptcy, barely able to survive, who then would just convert a few acres of their land to a diverse range of vegetables to sell in the local market, and were then able to start getting back on their feet again.
If we look globally, we can see there is such an urgent need to restore diversified food sovereignty.
Allow people and farmers to produce for themselves first and then keep some of their land or some of the effort for export whether to tourists or to another market.
Trade has always been there. So, this is not about ending trade.
When we start really exposing what’s going on and we understand our absolute need to reduce energy consumption wherever possible but more importantly, all laws to restore biodiversity on the land then a very different picture emerges.
We need to look at how taxes subsidies and regulations are used to favour monopolies. No self-respecting capitalists would actually believe in subsidizing monopolies but that’s what’s going on.
You do feel that there is a shift going on.
There is waking up it’s almost like an intuitive reawakening to what’s in our DNA.
You know we evolved more connected to one another and to the living world. And you just see people coming out of the cities longing for that reconnection to the earth and to community.
Community building combined with a deep spiritual reconnection to nature is an amazing therapy.
So, if we just open our eyes, we would see a very, very, clear path to healing, at the deep psychological personal spiritual level and healing the earth.
It’s amazing how many people are actually wanting to live a life of deeper connection and caring.
There are many ways that people are beginning to come together.
One of them of course is local markets.
There are also local business alliances.
There is local financing, where various forms, where people when they understand about localization start finding ways of creating for instance a revolving fund in their neighbourhood or with their local group that may be starting a food co-op that may be starting a garden at their children’s school.
There are new singing groups.
One of things that held us together as communities in almost all traditional cultures was that we sang and dance and made music together.
Only with the industrialization and commercialization of our lives, that we become a spectator culture.
This localization actually starts to help us regain many of the skills that we all have. And many of the strengths we have which have, we don’t experience when we lead our anonymous consumer lifestyles.
The most important thing we can do as individuals is to seek out like-minded people near where we live, cook a meal together and once we start opening our eyes to it we already feel so much better.
We already have greater faith in humanity. We realize the problem is not humanity. The problem is the in human scale of an economic system that we simply have not been looking at.
This is about how the global population can start providing for its needs and enriching its local economy. I want to see a growth. I want to see growth in healthy plants healthy animals. I want to see a growth in the number of jobs. I want to see a growth in the number of businesses.
Through the mega mergers, it looks like we’re just going to have one pharmaceutical company providing for the whole world. One seed company one water company.
No, we need to shift it so we have a genuine growth of proliferation into a number that is appropriate and that are all that’s the goal of localization; not to end trade but to restore democracy and to restore the responsibility of business to respond to ecological and cultural realities.
Thank you for listening to second episode of Nordic By Nature, ON SURVIVAL.
The Polish folk music you heard is from two different singing groups. The first group is from Gołvunecki who are making pierogi.
The Second Singing Ensemble you heard is from Dobrowoda. They have been singing together since 1968. The group have received the Minister of Culture and National Heritage Award.
Monika told me their names: (names listed)
Thank you also to Daniel Wahl.
You can find Daniel Wahl on Twitter, @DrDCWahl
And on Facebook at Regenerative Cultures and at Ecological Consciousness.
Daniel’s book Designing Regenerative Cultures is published by Triarchypress.net.
Daniel also has a blog on Medium at Design for Sustainability.
And finally thanks to Helena Norberg Hodge.
Helena is the founder of the International Alliance for Localization and the not for profit Local Futures. Please see local futures dot org for tips on how to get started making changes in your local area.
If you are interested in mindfulness and resilient thinking please read about Ajat Rastogi and his village homestay retreats on found nature dot org. The retreats are based in a village called Majkhali in Uttarakhand India, in the foothills of the Himalayas. You can follow the Foundation for the Contemplation of Natureon Facebook and follow Ajay on Instagram at Contemplation of Nature.
Nordic by Nature is an Imaginary Life dot net production created with the support of the Nordic ministries. Please help us by sharing a link to this podcast with the hashtag #tracesofnorth. And please follow us on Instagram at Nordic by Nature Podcast.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on our podcast so please email me. Tanya on Nordic by nature at imaginarylife.net
Nordic by Nature is a new type of mindful and spacious sound-crafted audio podcast inspired by Arne Ness, the Norwegian philosopher who coined the term Deep Ecology.
In ten episodes, and with a global perspective, Nordic By Nature explores human, social and personal resiliency and adaptability that is needed for these challenging times.
The podcast is sent from Sweden and the foothills of the Himalayas by two colleagues who met in 2017; Tanya Kim Grassley and Ajay Rastogi. The podcast is intended to be listened to like an extended exercise in mindfulness; the soundscape has been designed by sound artist Diego Losa.
In the first episode On Activism, we have 3 strong voices who represent many thousands more at the forefront of change.
First you hear the words of Satish Kumar. To people in the ecology movement, Satish Kumar needs little introduction. He has been a world leading activist for over 50 years. In his early 20s, inspired by Gandhi and British peace activist Bertrand Russell, Satish embarked on an 8,000-mile peace pilgrimage together with E.P. Menon.
They walked, without any money, from India to America, via Moscow, London and Paris, to deliver a humble packet of ‘peace tea’ to the then leaders of the world’s four nuclear powers. Satish sends a message to all activists out there! “You are doing something great,” he tells us. All important social change was driven by protest.
After Satish, we meet Marijn van de Geer, a Dutch national, living in London, and active member of the growing, grassroots movement Extinction Rebellion, that staged a 10-day demonstration across London, in April 2019, preceding the UK parliament declaring a climate emergency. Marijn takes us by the hand through the Rebellion, why it is so necessary, and the experience of 10 days non-violent protest.
We then will hear Siti Kasim, celebrity lawyer and human rights activist who is passionate about the rights of the indigenous people in the Malaysian peninsula, the Orang Asli.
Hashtags to copy: tracesofnorth, Deep ecology, Arne Naess, Tracesofnorth, ecology, conservation, resilience, UNSDG, The Nordics, decolonisation, transformation, bioregionaldevelopment, peace dialogue, sustainability, climate crisis, biodiversity, global challenges, society and culture, monikakucia, danielwahl, helenanorberg-hodge, satishKumar, extinctionrebellion, climateuprising, sitikasim, ajayrastogi, tanyakimgrassley, Sweden, swedishstyle,
In the second episode On Survival, we have 3 strong voices who understand the need for radical, system change. First you hear the words of Monica Kucia, culinary curator in Warsaw, who talks about how to take the ego out of food. Then you will hear Design Leader Daniel Wahl, author of Regnerative Cultures who speaks about bioregional development. Finally, we hear Helena Norberg-Hodge, author of Ancient Futures, and founder of the NGO Local Futures. Hashtags to copy/paste: arnenaess, deepecology, tracesofnorth, monikakucia, danielwahl, danielchristianwahl, rejuvenativecultures, helenanorberg-hodge, ajayrastogi
Episode 3: ON INNER RESILIENCE
Embeddable player for websites and blogs: <iframe src=’https://share.transistor.fm/e/39486f1f’ width=’100%’ height=’180′ frameborder=’0′ scrolling=’no’ seamless=’true’ style=’width:100%; height:180px;’></iframe>
Simple landing page and text to share on social media: https://share.transistor.fm/s/fac9e81d In this episode ON INNER RESILIENCE, we hear four voices share how they maintain inner equilibrium. Firstly, we learn about nature-centred mindfulness practice from Ajay Rastogi, at the Foundation for the Contemplation of Nature in the Himalayan village of Majkhali in Uttarakhand, India. Then you will hear Egyptian conservationist Noor A Noor, who describes his own personal path into mindfulness – through his experiences of the 2011 Egyptian Uprising. Then Judith Schleicher explains how daily meditation has helped her with her conservation work, ever since she attended a 10-day Vipassana retreat in Peru 7 years ago. Lastly, we meet Christoph Eberhard, legal anthropologist and practitioner of the Chinese and Indian traditional arts Ta Ji Chuan, Qi Gong and Yoga. Christoph believes that dialogue is at the heart of meaningful transformation- dialogue with oneself, with others, with nature, and the beyond.
Ajay Rastogi, Founder of the Foundation for the Contemplation of Nature.
Noor A Noor, Conservationist, Cambridge University
Judith Schleicher, PhD Fellow at Cambridge University
Nordic by Nature is an Imaginary Life production, created with the support of the Nordic Ministries (Norden.org) and in partnership with The Foundation of the Contemplation of Nature. Please help us by sharing a link to this episode with the hashtag #tracesofnorth, and follow us on Instagram Many thanks to Satish Kumar and Elaine Green for their ongoing support and encouragement. Satish is also the editor of Resurgence magazine, and the guiding spirit behind the internationally-respected Schumacher College in the UK. Many thanks to Marijn van de Geer, founder of the consultancy Resolution: Possible, Thanks to Extinction Rebellion members Emma Wallace and Sophie Jenna who also shared their Rebellion sound recordings with us. Please read more about the movements demands for transparency and climate justice on their website. Thank you to Siti Kasim, lawyer, activist and writer of the column Siti Thots on the Star Online. The flute music is a nose flute played by an indigenous Orang Asli man from the Temiar tribe in Kelantan. All the sounds have been arranged by Diego Losa.
You can follow Ajay’s project at the Foundation for the Contemplation of Nature and connect on Facebook and Contemplation of Nature on Instagram. Press contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Become our patron with even a small donation via Patreon!
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.
Podcast core team: Tanya Kim Grassley, Creator & Host The podcast is an Imaginary Life AB production. Tanya’s Imaginary Life is a network of creative professionals crossing research, strategy and design. Imaginary Life supports forward-looking organisations to facilitating co-creative processes to redefine their vision, values, design philosophy, brand strategy and shape better communications methods suited to transformation and change. www.imaginarylife.net
Ajay Rastogi, Co-host Ajay Rastogi is the cofounder of the Foundation for the Contemplation of Nature where he runs courses in Resilient Leadership. Ajay won the Global Maverick Teacher award for this work in 2016. Ajay has has developed the nature-focussed mindfulness method for opening dialogue called the Contemplation of Nature. www.foundnature.org
Diego Losa, Sound Designer Each podcast begins with a 5-minute meditative spoken word audio journey. We then hear the voices of our guests, accompanied with sound samples and music arrangements that give space for reflection and open up an emotional connection with the speaker. Born in Buenos Aires, Diego Losa is a master of ’concrete music, sound engineering and contemporary digital tools. He is also professor at the EICAR (International Film school of Paris) at the Regional Conservatory of St Etienne and the Sorbonne University (France) and he composes pieces for film, dance, contemporary performance, television and radio. http://diegolosa.blogspot.com