Monday, 9 November 2015

Kinkeling Community Garden– Fruit trees and Music make the world go around

This story begins back in 1998 when a friend and I, being young and naïve, bought some land in the Nuimi district of The Gambia in West Africa. I had only meant to have a quick adventure, get some headspace and learn some traditional African drumming. Anyway, we teamed up with some local Gambians and started working together on this four-acre plot of semi wild scrub. The land lies on the estuary of the river Gambia and it supports an amazing array of birdlife, as well as some huge baobab trees, a giant teak, lots of palms, and an area of rice field.

I fell in love with this place, where life felt very simple and where we were able to work without the sense of bureaucracy that I was used to in the UK. At that time, aged 23, I knew little and learned a lot. On and off, I spent seven years visiting, digging wells, drumming, planting trees and inviting visitors to camp with me over the winter months. We helped to support the maintenance of the project through our humble means. Then came studies, two children, and life. I left my Gambian friend Kabiro and his family living there, I didn't visit for a long time, and lost touch.

When I returned earlier this year after a seven-year absence, I had no idea what to expect.
What I found was that the place has now become a community garden and is used by several local families. Although many of the wells have fallen in, and the fence has half disappeared, the trees we planted fifteen years ago are now producing coconuts, mangoes, cashews, and other fruits. There is a sense of both dilapidation, and vibrant growth, and I hope and believe, that a crowd funding campaign can help to create a sustainable sense of growth within this small community. 

I enjoy getting my hands in the earth, and I am also a musician. One of the things that I love about working in West Africa, is that instead of taking a break to collapse into a chair, people often drum, dance and sing to generate energy. Now that I’ve grown up a bit, I feel that I have an opportunity to do something really positive, and to give my energy to a place and to people who don't have the same benefits and opportunities as we have in the 'West'. If I can keep drumming and dancing I’m sure it will all work out.

I don’t feel that it’s about ‘us’ helping ‘them’. I feel it’s about helping each other. There’s a lot we can learn from Africa; how to smile in the face of adversity, how to work to a rhythm instead of to a deadline, how to make do with little and how to be in community.

I'm now hatching plans, not just to maintain this wonderful resource, but to grow it and help to make new and exciting things happen. We are raising money through a crowd funding campaign to set up accommodation on site and a borehole for clean drinking water. With these two things, we can improve both the quality of life for the Gambians involved, and create opportunities for visitors from abroad to come and support and experience the joys and challenges of Gambian life. From the amazing birdlife, to the goats that roam and destroy the gardens - From the traditional Mandinka drumming and dancing to the fixation of the youth of living in Europe - From the battle to stave off the Sahara desert, to the peace and tranquility of the nearby Atlantic Ocean, there is a lot to be experienced.

Some of the things we want to bring to the project in the future are:  Facilitate and encourage organic vegetable growing, develop the forest garden, start a community tree nursery, explore alternative technologies, and support local musicians and craftspeople.

Please help to do this by contributing what you can! Every little helps, and you needn’t go away empty handed either. We are offering loads of great perks including a range of drums made by our favorite wood carver in The Gambia, kinkeling calendars full of bright images from the garden, music downloads to keep you dancing, and much more.

Thanks for your support.

You can support the Kinkeling Community Garden - Sound Of The Gambia project through the crowd funding campaign here (until 7 December 2015).
Allan Kerr, a musician based in Devon, UK. He performs with the band Ombiviolum who have played at the Resurgence Summer camp.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Summercamp magic at Green and Away

This year's Resurgence Summer camp takes place from Thursday 30 July until Sunday 2 August 2015 - providing a weekend of inspiration, ideas, wellbeing and networking in Europe’s foremost sustainable conference centre.

The Resurgence summer camp is an opportunity to be inspired, learn, discuss, explore ideas, recharge and relax. The camp takes place on a unique site run by Green and Away, aptly described as a ‘small corner of paradise’, situated alongside the River Teme, near Worcester.

Throughout the weekend there are talks by Resurgence & Ecologist contributors, workshops, music, craft and performance, with time for networking, discussions, walks, or simply enjoying the beautiful site, nestled near woodland and the river.

The summer camp gives people the chance to experience truly sustainable living within the context of a small community. It holds the vision of what our lives could and should be like – connected, joyful and inspired, with a sense of sharing and deep understanding, having the space to laugh together, exchange concerns and create solutions.

There are only 140 places on the camp, so by the end of the weekend there is a real sense of community, connection and wellbeing. An insight into how the camp makes people feel can be heard through the voices of those who’ve experienced the summer camp. Here are some reflections on previous camps: 

The Resurgence summer camp gives me the fuel to carry on living and promoting eco-justice.

Unique, inspiring and insightful talks. Open and safe space has allowed me to develop my inner wisdom and enabled my vision to come to the surface. Thank you everyone who shared wisdom from the heart on the start of my new journey.

I feel nourished in mind, body and spirit. I have been inspired by the young people here and am full of optimism for the future.

It has been a very instructive, nourishing, fun, and most of all heart-warming weekend. So many thanks. – Shantena, speaker

A huge thank you for such a magical and wonderful time I had at the Summer Camp, and I was genuinely sad to leave. It really is such a magical spot and the feeling of love for the Earth was so incredibly strong! - Polly Higgins

Thank you so much for hosting a wonderful and inspiring Resurgence camp.  It was certainly nourishing for and a celebration of the soil, soul and society!  We really enjoyed participating, exploring how to live Earth Law, and living in harmony with Nature.  The camp demonstrated to us the potential of alternative forms of messaging such as poetry and storytelling. We left feeling very creative. - Carine and Tom at Gaia Foundation and Wild Law UK

Green and Away set up their unique ‘outdoor conference centre’ every summer, thoughtfully constructed and organised to create the perfect space to exchange ideas about sustainable living and build solutions to our current crisis.

In addition to an eclectic selection of marquees, yurts, large tents and small break-out spaces, Green and Away also provide luxury accommodation for those who prefer to camp, glamping-style!

This year’s programme for the Resurgence summer camp includes:


Julian Rose: organic farmer and activist

Paul Mobbs: environmental consultant, author & lecturer

Matt Harvey: author and poet

Joe Hoare: the laughing Buddha

Satish Kumar: Editor-in-Chief, Resurgence & Ecologist

Nicola Peel: Eyes of Gaia

Alex Nunn: Action for Happiness


Qi Kong - Dong Sticks (bamboo stick exercises): June Mitchell

Harmony Singing around the fire: Janne Tooby and Toni Gilligan

Indian Raga and embodied voicework: Will Tooby


Carolyn Hiller and Nigel Shaw


Open mic - share a poem, song, instrument or dance


Philip Ralph: The One Eyed Man

Miti Desai: Indian Dance

All food is provided in the weekend ticket price (3 meals a day, plus teac, coffee and homemade cake!). The food is lovingly prepared by the Green and Away team - all vegetarian, cooked on site using organic, local produce where possible and of course delicious.

Weekend tickets, including all food: £160

You can book ticket online on the Resurgence website. BOOK NOW

For enquiries, please call 01237 441293 or email us.
For more information about Green and Away, including luxury camping options visit the Green and Away website.

Please share on social media:

The Resurgence summer camp is fundraising event for The Resurgence Trust, an educational charity dedicated to raising awareness of the key ecological and spiritual issues of our time. Registered charity no. 1120414.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Network of Wellbeing Celebrates World Environment Day

Florence Scialom looks at activities lined up by the Network of Wellbeing (NOW) to mark World Environment Day on Friday, 5 June.

NOW have shared a series of inspiring guest blog posts and videos on the connections between wellbeing and the environment throughout this week, as follows:

•    Connect with nature for improved mental health: World-renowned environmentalist Jonathon Porritt shares a guest post on the health benefits of nature. In particular, Jonathon talks about his experiences as President of The Conservation Volunteers (TCV), and TCV’s innovative Green Gyms project.
•    Nature is central to wellbeing: Campaigner, writer and leading environmentalist Tony Juniper shares a guest post offering his reflections on how Nature is central to our wellbeing, and should not be sacrificed for a misguided pursuit of 'progress'.
•    Strategies to build wellbeing for people and planet: This post shares some recent NOW video interviews, offering insightful perspectives on wellbeing and the environment. One interview is with Alan Watson Featherstone, Founder of Trees for Life and the other is with Chris Johnstone, Founder of The Centre for Resilience, Happiness and Positive Change.
•    Friends of the Earth: The final post in this series will be from Friends of the Earth, and will be shared on NOW’s blog on World Environment Day. 

Enjoy more with less

Seven billion dreams. One planet. Consume with care.” This is the theme for World Environment Day 2015 shared by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which coordinates global activities for the Day. This theme has served to inspire NOW’s range of activities. “Living sustainability is about doing more and better with less”, says the UNEP. NOW agrees, and therefore is keen to help highlight ways we can enjoy life with less, while being mindful of the world’s natural resources.

NOW has run a photo competition over the last month to help celebrate the lead up to World Environment Day, inviting entries which show how we can enjoy life more with less environmental impact. Prizes for the best entries include a free ticket to the Resurgence Festival of Wellbeing 2015 in London, a year’s subscription to Resurgence and the Ecologist magazine, and a free copy of Satish Kumar’s book, Soil, Soul and Society. Entries have now closed, and NOW will be announcing the winner(s) from the range of beautiful entries received on their blog soon.

Foraging for Wild Food

Throughout NOW’s activities for World Environment Day, it’s been emphasised that Nature is essential to our overall wellbeing. Another way NOW will be celebrating Nature’s bounty for World Environment Day is through running a Foraging Walk in Totnes (Devon, UK) together with Transition Town Totnes. NOW's Dr. Larch Maxey will be leading the Foraging Walk, and he’ll be guiding participants to find Spring treats from alexanders, daisies and  dandelions to valerian, wild garlic and yarrow. For those outside of Totnes, NOW have also put together a blog post sharing some useful resources on foraging.

Celebrating Nature

It has been proven that Nature is good for us, and the green life can be a good life. NOW wants to mark World Environment Day by encouraging people to connect with the joys of nature, and celebrate how it’s possible to enjoy life to the full whilst still respecting the environment.

You can help to spread the word to raise awareness about World Environment Day, through sharing some of the blogs, videos and photos mentioned above via social media. You can find NOW online via their website, as well as on social media via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Florence Scialom has a background in communications, community building and research. She works at the Network of Wellbeing (NOW), helping to coordinate NOW’s online communications and community building. She holds a BA in International Relations and Development Studies, and an MA in Anthropology and Development.

Photo credit: Sunny Loch Lomond, in Scotland - World Environment Day photo competition entry from Rebecca Crowther.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Living Food – a feast for soil & soul

Daphne Lambert introduces a new model of publishing that connects authors, publishers and readers

Living Food – a feast for soil & soul brings alive the connections between the food we eat and the health of the planet; the book weaves its way through the seasons of nature celebrating each new harvest with simple recipes and shares with you a wealth of medicinal nutrition that supports health through the seasons of life from conception and birth through to elder-ship.

Soil, interconnectedness, simplicity, seasonal alchemy and beauty underpin the Living Food journey. Food is a major part of what integrates every organism into the environment in which it exists, it is our most intimate relationship with nature. By exploring this relationship it helps us to understand that our health and the health of the planet are interconnected: there is no division – we are one.

A diet of natural foods, sourced locally where possible, simply prepared observing traditional wisdom, acknowledges our inter-being with the Earth. These foods support low carbon living, minimise damage to natural resources, help to mitigate climate change and contribute to thriving local economies and sustainable livelihoods. By being mindful about what we eat, we become aware that nourishing ourselves and nourishing the Earth go hand in hand and in this place of presence, awareness and consciousness we find soul.

A new model of publishing
Unbound has created a new model of publishing – a collaboration between reader, author and publisher. This is how it works: in order to get the book published on its initial print run, there must be enough potential readers pledging to support the book financially. Unbound will publish Living Food as soon as the book has 900 pledges. We invite you to be part of this new publishing phenomenon by making a pledge for Living Food.

After the book is written, designed, edited and printed, you will receive a copy of Living Food either as an ebook or a limited edition hardback or paperback. By making a pledge you are simply buying the book in advance of publishing. There is no financial risk as your money is returned if there are not enough pledges to ensure that the book is published.

Make a pledge for Living Food
You can make a pledge for Living Food – a feast for soil & soul here. If you make a pledge you will receive a beautiful book full of food wisdom & nourishing recipes, together with essays from four guest writers: Romy Fraser, Diane Osgood, Miche Fabre Lewin & Sandra White; as well as some brilliant rewards.

Living Food – a feast for soil & soul by Daphne Lambert will be published by Unbound. For more information visit Greencuisine or contact: daphne[at] 

Daphne Lambert is a medicinal chef, nutritionist, author and teacher. She is the founding member of the Greencuisine Trust an educational charity set up in 2011 to deepen the understanding between soil, food and well-being. Through innovative educational programmes and projects the Trust cultivates food knowledge and skills to enable  us to rethink our relationship to food.


Friday, 14 November 2014

Salvation Within Paradox

Sara Zaltash reviews FutureNOW – the pioneering Spiritual Ecology conference with Tim Freke, Chloe Goodchild, Joe Hoare, Peter Owen Jones and Satish Kumar.

We met there on a grey Saturday drenched with autumn rains, perhaps 120 of the West Country’s bright-eyed devout; activists and herbalists, healers and meditators, growers and thinkers, each seeking the sound and vision offered by the pioneering pilgrims on the panel. As I looked around and locked eyes with a neighbour over here or smiled at a stranger over there, I knew that I had personally been called by the promise of a community coalescing around a certain truth: “that unless you have some roots in a spiritual practice that holds life sacred and encourages joyful communion with all your fellow beings, facing the enormous challenges ahead becomes nearly impossible.”

Ecology. Economy. Humanity. Spirit. Challenges indeed for a consciousness that is making leaps toward to collective realisation everyday. The Internet, of course, has gifted me the above quotation from Joanna Macy’s contribution to the community-defining collection of essays Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth, edited by contemporary Sufi teacher Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee. At futureNOW I asked myself the same question as in present times: if all beings were truly to be given equal internet access, then why would some choose to become more enlightened than others? Perhaps because enlightenment is shrouded in mysticism, in mandala graphics and incense smoke, and social conditioning against such motifs is so strong that even a geezer like Russell Brand has to mind his patchoulis and quantum realities if he’s to get his meaning made. I confess that I am from another community too: I am an artist, an e’er-do-well and erstwhile academic. But that’s alright. Queuing up for morning tea I asked Will from Wiltshire, a university lecturer in environmental literature, whether he knew anyone else at this rock star convention of spiritual ecology leaders. “Not a soul,” he said, “But that’s alright. It’s important to be brave sometimes.”

Brave words indeed flowed from the radical Church of England priest and BBC TV presenter Rev. Peter Owen Jones, from stand-up philosopher and acclaimed author Tim Freke, and from the ultimate guru of this movement, the environmental activist, magazine editor and spiritual guide, Satish Kumar. These men spoke in turn about the need for humanity to relinquish its delusion of dominion over the planet and about accepting the ultimate mystery of existence. Kumar spoke about the loving sacredness of the soil, of society, of sacrifice – the necessary sacrifices of the mother, of the planet and of ourselves. Inspirational speakers, Rev. Jones and Kumar both upheld the twin peaks of land and spirit in their humbly ad libbed sermons, calling for the acknowledgement of the essential present-ness of our future responsibility to “eco”, our home. Bursting with insight, Freke offered paradoxological thinking as a salvation from the impotence that may come from abiding the mystery of all-being.  A proponent of love as a political act, Freke claimed “You Are The One” in a perfect paradox of consciousness consciously recognising itself, of humanity living its own dream.

As an artist-thinker, I enjoy a bit of practical guidance to usher in my cerebral shift. Noting that only in Western cultures does laughter need to be externally provoked, Bristol’s own laughing yogi, Joe Hoare, led us in several easy standing laughter practices. Stellar spiritual vocalist and teacher Chloe Goodchild was full of her own bright chuckles as she gathered us under the wings of her naked voice practice. Leading singing meditations throughout the day, Goodchild opened and closed the proceedings with her adaptation of Rumi’s well-loved verse: ‘Beyond ideas of right and wrong doing there is a field, I’ll meet you there.” Goodchild’s field is a singing field; in that field we met and she shared the seeds of various Eastern spiritual practices that combined with the voice carry our hidden gift for future generations.

Resounding from that day like the oft-rung meditation bell are some provocative unanswered questions from the closing Q&A session: when does mysticism first appear in children? How can we revere the earth? Are species other than humans involved in the evolution of consciousness? Perhaps the answer, as Hoare offered, is that ‘when you know how to listen, everything is your guru’. Rev. Jones spoke about the need to keep talking, to create space for conversations and community to bring about the changes we wish to be. For a novice pilgrim like me, practical guidance to walk in nature, to wash in the dew and to learn to bake my own bread were as comforting as the evolution of consciousness that is enacted by these actions towards personal, spiritual and environmental empowerment. The challenge of living a peaceful, respectful and unified future now is as real as our fields of land, of work and of energy. Let’s meet in that field, in the future, now.

FutureNOW was presented by Conscious Frontiers and took place on Saturday 8th November 2014 at Trinity Centre, Bristol. For more information visit FutureNow

Sara Zaltash is a British-Iranian live artist and performer.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Future Now

Taking place in the run up to Bristol's year as Green Capital 2015, this groundbreaking spiritual ecology conference calls for Consciousness Revolution.

Satish Kumar will be a keynote speaker for an exciting conference taking place at the Trinity Centre in Bristol on Saturday 8th November called Future NOW, which aims to raise the debate about the future and explore urgent solutions and mindful steps for sustaining the Earth so we can secure sustainable future lives for our children and grandchildren on this planet.

Co-organised by Conscious Frontiers, a leading edge speakers, communications and events agency, and Laughter Yoga expert/author Joe Hoare - Future NOW was inspired by the burgeoning Spiritual Ecology movement which seeks a spiritual response to our current ecological crisis, urging us to reconnect with Mother Earth as a sacred living being to which we all belong, and to recognise Her as the source of all life, not a resource to be plundered.
The compelling line up of eco-spiritual presenters for the conference includes Peter Owen Jones, Tim Freke, Chloe Goodchild and Joe Hoare and the day will include interactive breakout sessions exploring and reflecting on the question, “What can I do differently?”

50% of the proceeds from Future NOW will be shared between The Resurgence Trust and other charities and causes of the key note speakers - The Life Cairn Project, The Naked Voice and The Alliance for Lucid Living - all of which further the event’s aim to create a happier and more harmonious future for our planet.

Future NOW is a call to become more mindful, more peaceful, more connected and more loving to ourselves, to each other and to the Earth. It’s an invitation to take an active role in shaping a more sustainable and harmonious future.

Event details:

Date: Saturday 8th November, 10am-5pm 

Venue: Trinity Centre, Trinity Road, Bristol, BS2 0NW
Tickets to Future NOW cost £55 (£65 on the door). For bookings and further information

Will Gethin is Director of Conscious Frontiers.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Time to Get Serious About Laughter?

“Laughing Yogi” Joe Hoare explains the remedial benefits of laughter yoga.

It’s time to take laughter seriously’, says Dr Madan Kataria, founder of laughter yoga. Laughter has benefits on every level, including mindfulness and presence. These benefits are activated by the act of laughing itself and not by humour, and this is the basis for laughter practices world-wide.

Laughter yoga practices have a long pedigree. In Awakening the Laughing Buddha within my co-author Stephen Russell, the Barefoot Doctor, writes that the state of laughter readiness is a core Taoist principle, one with great antiquity. The Taoist insight is that sometimes laughing at the madness of life is the only sane response. As my valued co-author, his Taoist perspective on modern laughter practices adds depth to contemporary techniques.

The heart of laughter practices, whether in laughter yoga, laughter therapy or my own nls: natural laughter skills is the practice of laughter for its own sake. The benefits come from the act of laughing itself, not from waiting to find things funny. The curious and rather lovely spin-off is the more you laugh, the more you find to laugh about. This is where the mindful, empowering and healing dimensions take effect.

Laughter practices make you present. Whether you use them as a meditative practice or as a distraction, they pull attention into the present moment. When we have our attention in the present moment, we are not fretting about the past nor worrying about the future. This is the state of mindfulness. Associated with this state is a sense of peacefulness and happiness because except in exceptional circumstances, when you bring your attention into the ‘Now’ you experience joy. The progression, therefore, is that via mindfulness and empowerment, laughter practices help you access your own innate sense of joy. After all, as Deepak Chopra says: “True spirituality means not taking ourselves too seriously.”

As we outline in Awakening the Laughing Buddha within, laughter practices are easily initiated by smiling exercises, the experiential approach to Louise Hay-style affirmations.

They are surprisingly effective: ‘Vedant has really taken what you said on board and now everyone at our hospice is doing their 15 second smiles morning and evening. The patients respond really well to such a simple device - it is lovely to see the effect it has.’ (Christine West, Chair, National Association of Complementary Therapists in Hospice and Palliative Care)

Smiling exercises are exactly what they say – exercises in putting a genuine smile on your face and holding it there for at least 10-15 seconds. To keep it genuine requires an effort of will, also known as willingness. This willingness changes your mindset by inducing a sense of positivity in the same manner as a classical Louise Hay affirmation.

Smiling exercises are an easy starting point into the 5-stage model of walk the walk, feel the feelings, speak the words, think the thoughts, and live the life. Using this model, your whole being becomes engaged with the process. The cumulative effect transforms people’s lives, as a student of Joe’s laughter therapy testified:

I am writing to tell you what a positive and lasting effect the Laughter workshop has had on me. The workshop itself was fun, but also deeply serious in intent. Since then my husband’s deteriorating condition has put an almost unbearable strain on me. I have been practising the techniques I learned that day and sometimes they transform the situation and lift my spirits. I can’t begin to tell you what a difference that makes.’ (Carer delegate, Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust).

With evidence like this, isn’t it time for us all to add this approach to our spiritual tool-kit?

Joe Hoare is one of the UK’s leading Laughter Yoga therapists. He has dedicated himself to encouraging people to connect with their benign, creative individuality and to perform at their best. A charismatic facilitator of courses, workshops, retreats and one-to-one sessions, he is author of new book Awakening the Laughing Buddha Within, co-authored with Barefoot Doctor.

Joe is facilitating his next LFS: Laughter Facilitation Skills course on Friday 25th & Saturday 26th April at the Unitarian Chapel in Bristol. This course includes his nls: natural laughter skills. He is also hosting a laughter yoga seminar with the legendary “Grandfather of Laughter Yoga”, Dr Madan Kataria of India, founder of laughter clubs international, on Monday 9th June in Bristol.
For further details visit Joe Hoare’s website: