Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Meet the people. Permaculture certainly isn’t about running to the hills and being self-sufficient alone but is definitely about communities. In his Permaculture in a Nutshell, Patrick Whitefield illustrates how the permaculture principles of inputs and outputs and making links within a system can also be applied to people. For us in France, learning the language is vitally important if we are to integrate fully.
So, soon after we arrived in Brittany, I found an opportunity for some voluntary work on a straw-bale house in Bazouges sous Hédé: a total immersion in the language with the opportunity to learn useful skills for our future house-build. The mayor of that village is very keen on ecologically-friendly living and, as a result, they have one of Brittany’s first ever eco-friendly housing estates. This lotissement is for twenty self-build houses, which must adhere to certain eco-criteria, such as no PVC allowed in the construction and each plot being provided with a huge underground rainwater catchment tank.
Introduced by the straw-bale build, we have made some good friends and useful connections there with like-minded people. Pascal, who I met on the building site, was organising an “Eco-Festival” entitled “Convivial Art” and asked us to do a workshop on our living willow structures. That’s a winter activity, so I made up a poster showing and explaining (in French!) what we do with willow, we took our yurt and Gabrielle offered to do face-painting (maquillage fantaisie) for the kids.
It was a great day, warm and sunny, with good food and music and went on until the early hours. One guy who came in to admire the yurt, and whose children got turned into Spiderman and a butterfly, has told me where I can buy willow rods (from a water purification plant nearby) which is a good example of those links I mentioned earlier.