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.