Friday, August 24, 2007

Calling the Lama from afar...

Photos copyright: Leighton Cooke 2007
...I come from the land of song, so I was happy and proud to be present yesterday evening when Claron McFadden received the Amsterdam Culture Prize in the Musiekgebouw aan 't Ij on the city's waterfront. Claron sang, with Aleksandra Anisimowicz, the duet "I' mi son Giovinetta" by Luzzasco Luzzaschi which was, for me, the high spot of the evening. Alessandro Pianu played harpsichord. Afterwards we talked about music, her native city of New York and our mutual love of Mozart. Claron reaches out beyond the classical medium to embrace dance and many different aspects of the performing arts. She also loves children and Rebeka was captivated by the opportunity to meet a real star. Me too. It was an evening I'll never forget and a fitting finale to my years in Amsterdam. As I prepare to return to the hills of Wales I'm more than a little sad about the dear friends I'll leave behind. For a long time I've been calling my Lama from afar and now he has answered. Nothing is more precious than the chance to be with a great spiritual friend who can lead you out of confusion. I remember an afternoon with Geshe-la many years ago in Bromley, near London. It was one of those timeless moments when you simply know that the heart has no limits. Geshe Damchos teaches with laughter, the best medicine of all. Now many years later those seeds are ripening as this evening I listen to a beautiful solo Tibetan chant of Om Mani Padme Hung Hri. One day Tibet will be free and its people will know no more fear or suffering. Till that day comes we shall sing our songs of the heart, wishing to return to those we love. I am very fortunate to be going home and I wish that everyone who this night is separate from their home and those that they love finds their way back.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Interview with David Holmgren... of the permaculture movement. David tells how , by finding small scale, slow solutions, we can achieve the transition to a lower energy society based on cooperation rather than consumption. Local small scale food production will be crucial to this process. We will all be gardners in the future.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Bill Mollison on permaculture...

...with, once again, thanks to United Diversity for this link. Bill is the founding father of the permaculture movement and shows how sustainable ways of working with nature can safeguard the future of our food supply. There is a garden of Eden. We are living in it if we only realise it and use these methods to develop the land of the earth in an integrated way, rather than the sociopathic path of destruction we have been following so far. The number of permaculture projects on the planet is growing every day and anyone with even the smallest piece of land can use these techniques to create a living and productive environment.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Clean up your act, Tesco!...

...and stop being arseholes. Two of my very best friends come from Bulgaria and they are both kind and idealistic young people. Which is why when I read in this morning's Guardian that Bulgarian workers in Cornwall had been "forced to 'live like pigs on scraps', scavenging vegetables from the fields when their Latvian gangmaster withheld their pay for 34 days" I nearly puked. This is Cornwall, for pity's sake, where I used to go on summer holidays and eat Cornish pasties and drink scrumpy.
"They were sent to work through a subcontracting chain at Southern England Farms, a leading vegetable farming and packing company that appears on Tesco's website as one of its flagship local producers of courgettes, cauliflowers and cabbage. They were housed in dirty caravans, with seven trying to sleep in a six-berth van in one example. They were initially charged £50 a week each for this overcrowded accommodation."
What the fuck? Is Tesco's now owned by the descendants of Heinrich Himmler? Are the British to be able to eat cheap food because subcontractors of Tesco's run forced labour camps in the 21st century? Have we become a nation that turns a blind eye to blatant abuses of minimal human rights? In 2006 Tesco's made 2.21 billion pounds profit partly on the back of forced labour. This is a company that shames the reputation of Britain. What about the many British farmers who are also screwed by Tesco's greed and indifference to whether or not they can make a living? Get your act together, Tesco and stop acting like a corporate parasite. Sir Terry Leahy, if you have any honour, do something about this latest Tesco scandal or resign. I remember when Tesco closed down their store in the centre of Cardiff and made a killing. They have not changed a bit.
Action Network
Friends of the Earth

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Out of the Tunnel...

...Today I found a copy of Rachel's book in Waterstone's in Amsterdam. Even if you already know the story this book is still remarkable. Once you start you can't put it down. Rachel likes to say dammit just like Manon. The style is fast and dramatic and makes you feel as if you are there with her when it all happens. This is not another book written by a victim. Rachel does not ask for sympathy, she just tells her tale. There is much here to give hope to anyone who has suffered a life shattering trauma such as rape or violence. The message is that one can start again and learn to live with the scars. I don't know what amazes me most, Rachel's courage or the mindless idiots who caused all this suffering. I watched the news of the 7/7 London attacks on TV in an Amsterdam cafe as it happened and have been reading Rachel's blog from the beginning. She has become a voice of freedom at a time when politicians have passed one stupid law after another. Every politician should read this book. Rachel stands up for the rights that took many generations to achieve that are being so carelessly eroded. It was touching to know that J proposed marriage right here in Amsterdam, and that she has such a great partner to support her. She sure deserves him. Read this book and it will move you as it did me.
The Friday Project (book info)

Peak oil...

...with thanx to Josef and United Diversity for this link. I agree that we have to start to value our resources to achieve a sustainable future. Here's another cool link from Josef: The Great Turning

"We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace.

-The Earth Charter (2000)"

Monday, August 13, 2007

No more heraith any more... the Cookie mouse morphs into a homing pigeon! I'm packing my bags and heading for the hills to confront my wyrd and do some permaculture. it's been a while since I saw these trees being planted. Now they are a living orchard and form a path of meditation, a gradual path that tells us we should slow down. Lam Rim is such a special place that has been the home of my heart for over thirty years. It has matured into a natural refuge and a safe haven for those who seek peace and tranquility. Geshe-la is in good spirit and looking well. Soon I'm off to London to catch up with old and new friends. Then it's back to Wales. The family kept the home fires burning and it's time to get warm again.

Are you mad as hell?...

...Well this is funny as fuck! Thanx to United Diversity for reminding me about this great movie.

Monday, August 06, 2007

US can now intercept European communications...

...that are routed through the US, eg via Google or Yahoo.
“The bill clarifies that no court order is required for foreign-to-foreign communications that pass through the United States."
It’s now official: George Bush and Alberto Gonzales have the legal authority to spy on you and I without a warrant at any time. The vote was as follows:

Yea:227 Nay:183
Wired news

Is it not time that Europeans woke up to the fact that data security and personal freedom are being eroded on a daily basis by an Anglo-Saxon creeping fascism? In the Observer yesterday Henry Porter once again reminds us how Britain's liberties are disappearing too. We are sleepwalking into tyranny.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Amsterdam bridges...

...There are so many of them in this city. They are the closest thing to mountains we have, especially when your bicycle gears are not working properly. Bettie Klomp did this beautiful painting of the Herengracht, the gentlemens' canal. The summer has finally arrived and I'm on the balcony sipping a very nice Gigondas and trying not to think that tomorrow I'll be flying, which is not my favourite activity. Still it will be an opportunity to take some nice pictures of Bath and the Somerset countryside. This week was the holiday that never was as I ended up busier than ever. The internet is working again so I'm not a laptop nomad at the moment. The dog is having a hard time in the hot weather as collies have a lot of hair, which in Freako's case, needs a trim.
I'll miss him next week. Cookie mouse is running round the balcony as his seed box fell over and he's chasing his lunch. Talking of which...

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Rachel comes out of the tunnel... her new book is published. It's a remarkable story that should give hope to many victims of trauma.