We went on an expedition last week seeking out an abandoned village we heard of nearby. Unnarr found a place full of things to smell and gnaw, like a deer leg he merrily chewed all the way home. We found an incredibly beautiful place full of the echoes of past lives with ancient chestnut coppices, fresh springs and overgrown pastures. The find fevered us into dreaming and stoked the sleepy question of ambitions.
We do not have a short supply of ambitions. The immediacy of our needs forces our attentions to focus on the extreme short term so there is worth in stopping, breathing and iterating our ambitions.
We have come here to grow everything that we eat and to be self-sufficient in nearly every way. Turning our little piece of land into a self-sufficient mountain-plot is a daunting challenge to begin with, but there our ambitions only begin.
Let’s say one of our easier to achieve ambitions is to explore and practice experiments in a much more broadly defined self-sufficiency: experiments in what life might be like in a world where it was no longer cheap to distribute mass quantities of oil and oil based products to the richer regions of the world. In this world, it makes far more sense to eat fresh seasonal produce grown in your area, to acquire materials for building from local sustainable sources, and to acquire, or make, good quality tools, and materials that last and are passed down through generations.
This is an ambition we can, and do, move towards. We are moving a large part of our food consumption to local market-garden grown foods and eating more and more seasonally. Although now building in ubiquitous brick and concrete mortar styles, due to urgent necessity, we are planning our transition to more natural building methods using the resources in supply around us: stone and coppiced chestnut. We are studying both local old building techniques that are in danger of becoming lost as well as looking to other inspirations, like Ben Law’s new traditions in round wood framing. There is great pleasure in silencing the consumerist instinct to buy quick solutions to the problems we face. We slow down, see if we can make our own solutions or bring in second-hand materials and tools. With this last principle we diminish our involvement in the chain of exploitation between the workers in china, or elsewhere, that create the cheap plastic life supplements shipped around the world for us to buy into.
Our ambitions are greater. The empty village is incredible. Incredible in beauty of situation. Incredible in sadness, that a place once full of lives, laughter and tears is empty and tumbling down in the wind and rain. Incredible in potential, that our own attempts in these experiments on this small piece of land could be broadened and perhaps someday, extended more to interested people and a place that once laughed can once again be filled with hopes and emotions. These are thoughts to mull mildly in the back of our heads whilst we get on with the happy grind of our work.
We thought we would share some of the pictures of the village with you and post these few words on ambition.
In a broader sense, our ambitions range even far greater. We wish to be a part of changing the way the world works. There has just been an election in Spain where the electorate was given a choice between two large powerful parties that, no matter the election result, would both bend their knees to the economic masters in Brussels, masters that follow the trends of market raters, the IMF and the global financial system. A similar quandary is presented to people in democracies right around the world. With the recently installed Brussel technocrat to run Italy, dictated policies to Greece running directly counter to the wishes of the people, it is becoming more and more evident that in modern ‘democracies’ money is the dictator. This economic system is exploitative, unstable and unsustainable; we are continuing down the path of greater repression of public will, and greater crises following crises. There are many exciting movements, points of resistance and emerging alternatives around the world. In our little remote mountain valley farm we are forcibly aware that we are not in the centre of global events. Nonetheless we have ambitions to be somehow connected, linked up with the struggle to make this world more fair and just as well as filled with laughter and liberty.