I am very grateful to everyone who helped put together our first Green Camp Weekend at Green Camp Ellanore in West Wittering. The Green Camp Weekend format was originally developed at Arundel Green Camp, in our euponomous forest garden we established there through our various programs we delivered at that Green Camp. We are using the weekends to come together to support important causes; this time a reforestation project of the Riverwoods team that they presented in their beautiful film, then spending the weekend together, powowing about these solutions and practicing the Dhamma (the scientifici method for understanding the root cause and therefore the way our of suffering).
I am particularly grateful to Alex Rogers who gave us a chance and came from the great comfort and success of her hugely successful gym in Chelsea to help us get started with something from just about scratch. Alex brought only such sincereity in her care for everyone and in her preperation and delivery of everything to our small group . It's also thanks to Alex and her promotion of the event that we had such lovely attendees to the weekend who are asking for these weekends to be more frequent and thus we are going to be announcing more weekends so please do watch this space. Where we may very well be announcing a new much larger event space and even some overseas retreats ⛵️
In August of this year (2022), the council shut down the AirBnb business renting the domes I had built up at Green Camp Ellanore (which made up most of my income). I realised that I needed something full of goodness and positivity to look forwards to and to and work towards to make it through the winter. I spoke to my friends and colleagues who are producing inspiring films all about nature based solutions and organised screenings of their films at Chichester Cathedral with talks from these film-makers with the hope that I could use their celebrity as a way to bring folk around these deeply sensible, practical and urgent solutions and make a weekend were we could powow, meditate, enjoy some vegan feasting together and continue developing our regenerative programs together.
Over the years, Paul Lister has been a huge inspiration to me as he is working on ways that man and nature can live in hugely profitable symbiosis. Paul and his team set up The European Nature Trust (TENT): which is very busy reintroducing Wolf, Lynx and Bear or restoring whole habitats at Paul's estate, Alladale in Scotland and inwider Europe. TENT has produced a series of incredible films about their work and recently they premiered Riverwoods in London produced by Peter Cairns and Scotland: The Big Picture. Check out the trailer below:
Paul and Peter very kindly agreed to let us screen the film as I had hoped I could use the screening to raise funds for their latest project restoring a degraded landscape into a Riverwood at The Dark Isle in Inverness. Indeed we still are seeking to raise the £15k for them to purchase the trees to reforest this degraded land back into Riverwoods. Peter explains the project and how you can donate in the video below and through this link.
If you missed the film but would like to see it or would like to support the cause then we can organise an online screening. There is an amazing website made by Scotland: The Big Picture all about Riverwoods restoration absolutely worth checking out: www.riverwoods.org.uk
Secondly: Long time Green Campus Ltd. advisor, dear friend and colleague with whom I set up World Preservation Foundation & The Foundation For Common Good 501(c)(3), Mark Galvin, who has been hard at work with Otto Brockway over the last few years to produce Eating Our Way to Extinction (E2E) with Kate Winslet adding her narration and support to the project. Mark also kindly agreed to come to screen his film at the second Green Camp Weekend on the last Friday of February, offering to bring two of the Cambridge professors to answer questions on their work that the film presents in some detail. Here's the trailer for E2E:
Thirdly, another guiding light in mine and many people's lives, Bruce Parry agreed to come and screen his recent film Tawai - A Voice From The Forest that draws on his decade making his TV series ‘Tribe’ for the BBC (www.bbc.co.uk/tribe). In this and other multi award winning series, Bruce is followed completing rites of passage rituals to earn his place among some of the last ancient tribal cultures/peoples left on the planet. His new film Tawai explores the more philosophical and sociological aspects of sustainability, drawing from the ancient cultures, our elders that brought us forth. I can't quite express what a blessing it is to have the support from people like Bruce but all of these different groups I met either directly or indirectly through my meditation practice, putting the work in to try and tame my own (dismally) unruly mind, or sincerely trying to help protect all life as sacred (vegan activism). We can't wait to have Bruce with us over the last weekend of April for the Green Camp Tawai Weekend. Here is the trailer for Bruce's film:
Now that I had the commitment from these groups to screen and present their films and spend the weekend with us I went to work trying to build up a team to help me deliver the event. As usual, His Grace The Duke of Norfolk (who gave us the land for Arundel Forest Garden and our first Green Camp) offered his support. He was on the guest list for The Riverwoods screening early on. This gave me confidence to keep pushing this all forwards and to invite other powerful groups to support Peter Cairns (the film maker at Big Picture Scotland behind Riverwoods) and his ciritically important restoration projects. My effort was to bring together local big hitters like Duke Eddie, as well as local interest groups and ordinary people to support the ecosystem restoration projects presented by the film.
Duke Eddie had to stay in London for meetings organising the upcoming Coronation which his office is responsible for but we are still very grateful for his willingness to support us always as just the gesture helps us build confidence and support around us.
The solutions contained in these films are incredibly positive, encouraging and above all: practical! We are really trying to bring together the most positive and relevant solutions for helping all of us, when at this time, we are faced with so many global threats and so much negative news! I feel it is so important to have something inspiring to get out of bed for in the morning and what is more inspiring than looking after our mother Earth, that divine, living intelligence that brought us forth and is responsible for our every breath. Indeed that is what Green Campus Ltd. the Green Camps we set up and programs we deliver are all about!
I feel I should also say that we approached Chichester University to Screen these films and talks from the film makers to their students but we had zero replies after writing personally to each head of department including the different venue departments and even walking onto the campus to meet them. There was just no reply, not even from the Student Unions. I must say this does not bode well for the hope of learning any form of responsibility or adaptability for this institution other than ignorance, let alone manners.
We had much better luck with Chichester College who after eventually walking into the campus were very responsive offering us one of their large halls for the screening. We are very grateful to The College but feel that this would have been too far from the centre of town. We really do hope we can get the students from the colleges to the screenings and offer all students free access to these.
The team at Chichester Cathedral / The Church of England do tend to be very sympathetic to these efforts and they were very supportive in offering us a venue in order to host these screenings and promote our events on their website.
The Green Camp format is a whole weekend around these inspiring solutions, not just a screening, so I needed to build a team to help deliver these screenings as part of a weekend program of meditation and Buddha Dhamma (the scientific methodology for beings to come out of suffering).
I wrote to the 200 plus volunteers that had applied to volunteer for Green Campus through our listing on WeMakeChange.org. Only one applicant replied: Valentina, who was very experienced in event production and marketing. I explained a marketing plan I developed whereby we would work with a school who had written to Green Campus Ltd. looking for work experience for their students. The plan was to teach the students design, marketing, lobbying and basic event production by working with them to design and deliver a marketing campaign for the film screenings and Green Camp Weekends. We would design flyers with the students for different groups we target and then print those student designed flyers for them and send them out onto the streets to promote the events to the community in Chichester. I thought lots of 10-13 year old kids asking people to come and care for their planet would be a great motivational tool! Sadly none of the students (from this London school) signed up due to the long distance to Chichester however we are still very keen to work with any local schools who would like to develop a work experience program with us like this. We have some really inspired and enormously talented folk on The Green Team. For more info on this work experience program have a look here: www.create.green/work-experience
I feel it should also be said that Molly and Bruno were booked in to deliver a Vegan Yoga Weekend for which we booked the village hall out each of the alternate monthly weekends we planned to do so. Molly is very busy as a campaigner for Peta and we commend her work however Bruno's only input was to barrate us as fakes because there was honey on a shopping list prepped by a non-vegan trying their best. This narcassistic compassion is used to control people in the same way humans always love to for dominance where they lack the ability to actually empower others and is a on the rise with men winning women's weightlifting competitions, exploiting their compassion to get ahead where they are, by rights, out of the correct classification but using these bullying taktics to manipulate their way through the well intended but ill-informed. Thank heavens identity is non-subjective and all but two year olds recognise this or we really would be in trouble!
Following the failure of this effort, Valentina jumped ship but we thank her for her input that at least helped catalyse the development of various efforts to find and assess venues for the screening, make a webpage & booking system for the screenings: www.create.green/screen, a new booking engine for Green Camp Ellanore booking.create.green.
I was then very grateful for my friend Lizzy who agreed to help me deliver the meditation and food aspects of The Green Camp Weekend: at least to make sure someone was on a cushion in the main meditation / class-room (my converted sitting-room) during a schedule of guided meditations (pressing play on the meditation programs from Burgs and www.theartofmeditation.org). I produced a flyer about this basic meditation weekend and sent it out to friends and colleagues for input and to gauge interest:
I was as delighted that Alex Rogers, a top Yin Yoga, PT and psychological fitness program teacher from KXU Gym in London offered to take us under her wing and lead a program of Yin Yoga and Psychological Fitness over the weekends that she is very highly qualified to teach.
Again, Alex is a friend that I know through my efforts to learn and practice meditation and again, it is because of the painfully cultivated compassion of these beings that I was offered any opportunity at all. I can’t stress enough how learning the Dhamma and sticking with the Sangha provides a real refuge and source of hope and opportunity like none other I have found.
We jumped all over this opportunity to work with Alex and soon flyers were circulating around advertising something more than just our little meditation schedule and healthy vegan menus we would co-create together. Now we had one of the most highly qualified Yin Yoga teachers in the country who is the “Padawan” of her teacher developing a program called ‘Psychological Fitness’.
Now that we had something of value to share with our community, I felt confident about printing the flyers and going out promoting it. Thank you to all of the local organic stores and businesses who allowed us to place the flyers on their countertops and community boards. I will take pics of the flyers in pride of place on their tills for the next screenings! Something I am upset I didn't do this time. I also hope that the Green Team can tell the story about how we used lots of the organic products and services from your stores during the Green Camp weekends!
For example, eatplanted sponsored us with some of their new Pea protein chicken to try and Lizzy who is helping with the food will be publishing a review about working with these new ingredients that are kinder to people, planet and of course: chickens! More soon!
I now had to bring Green Camp Ellanore back to life after it was shut down by the council / Agents / Landlord (inspite of their written and oral agreements) in full flow mid August. It's amazing how much algae and mould can grow on canvas (the reason I have been trying to build The Big Green Machine to print The Green Camp System) and decks made of pallets when they are not in use for three months. There have also been a few storms and incredibly wet weather battering everything almost non-stop! I had to power hose these all down with anti fungal and algae chemicals and wash acres of inner lining, light huge fires in the domes to dry them out and re-establish the garden the gardener had also abandonned. A big thank you to Alex for coming down to help me get it all ready!
After lots of long days that went late into the night and some help setting up from Alex, the propperty was ready and thanks to Alex's promotion of the Weekends at her gym in London our little cottage by the sea was expecting a retreat with just the five of us; almost all that we could fit in the little space!
Thanks to my mother Joanna, who invited all of her friends, the screenings were populated by some local interest groups including Charlie Baker, the Chairman of the local rivers trust, Arun and Rother Rivers Trust who is supposed to be responsible for our rivers. After the film we witnessed him repeat thrice: 'there is no reason for Beavers to exist!' I noted that one of our own team (the least invested in conservation) was quick to congratulate him telling news of his colleague who he told us had killed over 150 Beavers. She said: 'it's good to hear you say that.' Here we see folk who'se selfish social and commercial investments are threatened and they would rather find support for those then the overall health of the system that. It seems to be a deeply unconscious process. This is why we have the meditation part of the weekend: to deepen awareness and presence so people can see themselves.
I have noticed that when one is invested in the social and economic structures that profit from the exploitation of other beings, one finds it nearly impossible to understand the theses against one's position. Charles Baker, nor those who were supportive of his conclusions, who are grateful for their invitations to the popular hunts and shoots, when asked, were all unable to name their own thesis (and I quote Charles: Man is the apex of nature) let alone any of the very famous arguments against anthropocentrism. For the children of these social and economic structures, these sorts of remarks are to be expected, but for those entrusted with the protection of our-waterways, it is still shocking to hear them reject the work of these carreer conservation scientiests, so well presented in these films. It is then obvious why our waterways in this area are in such a crisis and are constantly being flooded with raw untreated sewage and that the councils responsible for this are being so heavily fined by the government. It is clear why there is such a crisis: because those in-charge of our waterways are invested in the social and economic structures that pollute and destroy these ecosystem assets that are very much a part of us all.I have noticed that when one is invested in the social and economic structures that profit from the exploitation of other beings, one finds it nearly impossible to understand the theses against one's position. Charles Baker, nor those who were supportive of his conclusions, who are grateful for their invitations to the popular hunts and shoots, when asked, were all unable to name their own thesis (and I quote Charles: Man is the apex of nature) let alone any of the very famous arguments against anthropocentrism.
For the children of these social and economic structures, these sorts of remarks are to be expected, but for those entrusted with the protection of our-waterways, it is still shocking to hear them reject the work of these career conservation scientists, so well presented in these films. It is then obvious why our waterways in this area are in such a crisis and are constantly being flooded with raw untreated sewage and that the councils responsible for this are being so heavily fined by the government. It is clear why there is such a crisis: because those in-charge of our waterways are invested in the social and economic structures that pollute and destroy these ecosystem assets that are very much a part of us all. They deem the restoration and regeneration of the ecosystem as a direct threat and militate against it even when the case for everyone is presented to them quite generously, even if they refuse to do any science themselves.
When asked repeatedly: what is the damage that these Beavers wreck that is so awful: Charlie Baker could not answer the question. He could not say what percentage of the farmland they were hurting, or what it was that was so harmful. He would only repeat that they are uncontrolable in a fervid and almost terrified way. His monolog would not end unless one illustrated how he was just repeating statements that made no sense neither were they supported by qualification or evidence: nor how his plans to destroy the Beavers and Seals would benefit everyone.
This hubris is at the source of the toxicity that flows through our rivers. From the planning applications given to the greatest polluters in our area: the factory pig farm in the Kingly Vale National Park, producing 2000 tonnes of concentrated slurry a week, full of antibiotic resistant bacteria that is pumped into our waterways and that is airborne with the flies and stench into the homes of families with newly born children and our vulnerable ageing population: they are very happy to take our donations for protecting our waterways along with their business rates but not to have an unplanned beaver dam that cleans up after their clinically deranged business model that only exploits life: the greatest driver of biodiversity loss, greatest polluter of fresh and salt water and greatest incubator of infectious disease, greatest emitter of anthropogenic green-house gasses, waster of 80% of our available grain, waster of 80% of our farmland: animal agriculture. This is the subject of the next Green Camp Weekend with Otto and Katie Winslet's film Eating to Extinction.
In good humour, the green team quoted Charlie Baker for the rest of the weekend when we wanted to illustrate an example of of mental pathology: 'there is no reason for the beaver to exist'. Where we hold onto our own selfish view of things that we can not even hear solutions from the nations best scientists presented in a beautifully shot and narrated film the reasons why the Beaver and these other systems are an absolute imperative for not only our survival but for our local communities to thrive again.
The rest of the weekend was spent in absolute Vegan splendour! We had 40 vegan sausage rolls from Gregs (thanks mum), more vegan hot chocolate then you can dance a jungle tribe around and the Vegan fridge was so incredibly full. We have A LOT to learn about communal vegan food prep and this weekend was a big slap in the face about just how much! The Vegan Fridge was heaving and we brought way too much food. The recipe lists were wrong and did not match the menu plan.
The biggest error was that we had zero nutritional plan and that is just not acceptable as we are now developing detox programs to deliver with our friends at The Hippocrates Institute. We look forwards to spending some of the weekend at the next Green Camp Weekend who are responsible for developing the raw vegan detox programs at Hippocrates and I hope to work with these and hopefully Lizzy or someone who is deeply invested in personal and planetary health.
The weekend it's self was divine and so have been the repercussions: so many good opportunities and people have come of trying to organise around solutions that serve all beings, universal symbiosis if you will, working with The Golden Rule and The Dhamma (the scientific methodology for beings to come out of suffering ref. 1, 2). We practiced meditation early in the morning at about 6h30 or 7h00 listening to guided meditation from Guy Burgs and TheArtOfMeditation.org. We went for runs down to the sea and swam in the cold practicing Wim Hoff techniques.
Getting in to the cold water is like a car crash that resets your nervous system. I felt fantastic running down and swimming with David who has become a friend. We made juices and made breakfast together, self organising into teams for each meal.
We had morning psychological fitness sessions with Alex that were sort of like Buddha Dhamma but with all of the Buddhist terminology removed and just the scientific descriptions of everything. Alex talked us through various exercises for remaining aware of the mental processes at work and not slipping into self destructive reactive patterns which are very deep and liberating to work with.
There were long discussions by the fire with lots of laughter followed by long Yin Yoga sessions in candlelight with my new friend Lulu's beautiful dog Louis making sure no one fell asleep. We would follow these with long guided meditations that were shared by different members of the group forming a kind of meditation menu!
It was so successful that we are thinking of organising a weekend sooner than previously planned and will announce if that is happening. We all recognised that this little cottage made the number of people able to practice Yin Yoga in the space limited to a max of 8 maybe even only 6 (unless in formal sitting meditation mode we could fit about 16). Alex is looking at various places and we will have to see what comes of the Green Camp weekends and her Yin Yoga retreats but we will update that here.
I am constantly working with Green Campus Ltd.'s CFO Sinesh Shah, looking at farms & land to buy where we can deploy a green camp and food forest to develop and deliver our programs in comfort working with the nature intelligences and some AMAZING architects to serve Mother Earth. Plans thus far means either mortgaging or selling a property that may prevent me from inheriting a larger house (with a yoga studio looking over the sea) that my grandfather designed and built on the other side of the village that the rest of my family keeps trying to sell.
So we are looking to find places that we can deliver our retreats and build Green Camps every single day! The Landlord at Ellanore keeps threatening to sell the property and I keep offering to buy it with Sinesh and I working out how large a Green Camp we can get planning permission for here, there and everywhere we can find to work on plans for new Green Camps and their food forests to service a mortgage. At present I am being ripped off all over the place and feel that if I just let go of the property I could run programs at venues specifically for delivering programs and wait till there was a better opportunity to buy aka Gypsy mode (deeply sustainable).
The calculations and strategising of the best way to serve Mother Earth and therefore our nation, our communities, families and each of us individually, most expediently, continues and we welcome you to join us in this most enjoyable process at Green Camp Ellanore for the Next Green Camp Weekend: The Eating 2 Extinction Weekend with it’s producer Mark Galvin and friends. Charles@create.green if you would like to join in
The Green Campus Journal chronicles the latest journal entries from all green team members. Look out for the monthly Green News Show for an in-depth update about what's been going on!