living without a car –

in living without a car these five years, just a handful of days resemble this one, walking home in stormy weather. usually we run errands by electric bicycle, and as we live slowly and simply, it’s been easier to plan around rainy days and icy ones.

renting a hybrid, taking a cab is useful on occasion but we spend far less than we ever did on fuel. the bus goes by now and again. before the plague, hitchhiking was embedded in this island culture, an informal car-share, and it is reviving. we made friends; they help see us through.

the trick is to go ahead and live it. if more of us ride our bikes we make visible demand for lanes. if more of us walk, we live the case for roadside paths and slower speed-limits. early adopters lay the path for another future. we culture the culture in another pattern.

a state of ecological emergency requires a more creative response to getting around than continuing to burn fossil fuels, than even the private electric car.

in moving toward carlessness, we began to experiment. we asked, how else can we move ourselves or our belongings around?

we can consolidate errands, carpool or combine shopping with friends. add a trailer to the electric bike, invest in panniers, cycle as a family to stock up. use buses, foot-ferries, trains. join a carshare, rent a vehicle when necessary. have fun at home and nearby. treat travel as a luxury. walk more, cycle further.

shop less often, stock up on storage crops and staples, preserve and ferment food. grow more food, year-round. mill grain. work online. buy less. host visitors longer, less often. find local health practitioners, buy local products, ask local shops to carry what we need, ask local farmers to grow what we eat.

we match clothing to the weather, go out in any temperature. explore the island. take our time.  enjoy the journey.

in a rushed world, without owning a car we are slowed to a human pace, and we thrive for living within the limits.

read the extended piece on patreon where you can sign up for a steadying stream of the next small works and short films.

playing cider-maker

this culture told me that only singers sing, only writers write, only dancers dance. that one must be a builder to build, a teacher to teach. that i may be an audience to musicians, actors, but only the select few may take up the camera, the stage, the brush in earnest.

even then, how dare they? they must always be proving some god-given talent, some specialist exceptionalism.

but i just loved to make things. with words, images, sound, with materials of all descriptions. i had the good fortune to be the child of an artist, so it seemed to me that all people are artists and so was i, and avoided the heartache of requiring permission.

my elders made music as a matter of course, at holidays, at any task, while walking in the street arm-in-arm, but the conservatory trained me not to play. in a band, my mates were all fellows immersed in the culture of the lone genius-in-making practicing over and over, if ever displaying a cock-sure swagger so that repeated failures look invulnerable. i didn’t know how they did it, being a girl, trained to be good. i felt the pressure to already know how in advance of trying, which kills so much creativity. only recently, singing to kids, scoring my films, did i allow myself to really play, to let songs emerge as they will.

perhaps generalism flowed from the way that my parents re-invented the house around us as we grew up, raising it right off the ground, though they weren’t architects nor carpenters nor plumbers nor electricians nor interior designers. likewise at art school i practiced all the skills i could get my hands on. in deschooling, i have not ceased.

to bring skills home is the pattern. home education naturally followed home birth. unschooling unearthed the whole world. so we learn by living. to get around by bike, to split the wood that warms us, to grow our food and preserve it, all these are roles and skills of immersion, not expert but amateur.

just today, i play cider-maker and vinager-maker. i’m no expert, but i know enough to get by. enough to take the practices that sustain a good life into my own hands.

my new film season follows this way of being. get on the ‘postcards’ list (sign up below) to hear when they’re out.

we are all accidental gods

our very existence in this pivotal moment means that we share a god-like power over what comes next. what we do now, it matters profoundly. to have conversations about how we get to the future we want to see is an essential part of the critical work of our time. if you’re already a devoted listener of ‘accidental gods’ podcast you’ll know how elated i am to have had a chance to talk with writer and interviewer manda scott about the small work of how we might live in ways that regenerate life. find the interview below or wherever you like to listen.

a few of my favourite episodes include these frankly life-changing conversations with jennifer hinton, simon michaux, sarah ichioka, paddy-le-flufy and chris smaje.

becoming a generalist

becoming a generalist in the culture of the specialist is a growing revolution. in reskilling we discover both autonomy and connection. ecologically, economically, the era demands that we learn to make more of what we need, in our communities, with local materials, with our own hands.

once, a village might have taught us more than any school. with elders, mentors, by sharing work or just through living. in stepping away from schooling, in reinventing our children’s education and through that, our own, a natural pattern of learning-in-place, within the community, emerged. this is now an experimental act of self-education, of becoming autodidacts, lifelong learners.

learning to brew is one of those skills that i’m practicing, without expertise, with just enough knowledge cobbled from books, conversations, watching, learning wherever i can, in snippets of time i might find in our days. studies often draw directly from the land, as the trees provide such bounty there’s nothing to do but drop everything and pay attention.

in learning to brew country wine we meet a series of challenges. in a small way we reckon with a world where the expert, the company, the corporation makes everything for us, just as we play audience to the singer, the actor, customer to the clothing shop, the restaurant, the supermarket. follower to the leader.

what did people used to do, traditionally, before the industrial stepped in?

we change the world when we join in and brew, sing, write, sew, cook, grow, act.

in experimenting with flavours from what grows around us, we begin to arrive, to become grounded. to actually eat and drink from our surroundings is a radical act of reconnection.

in reviving traditional skills in everyday life, we need only know enough to begin. we can start small. most skills are astonishingly basic, at the outset. one may become an expert, but what’s wanted now is sufficient self-reliance to make what’s needed, with a pleasing immediacy that simplifies how we live and our impact on the earth. pick, press, culture, ferment, all right here.

so we remake our world with our own hands.

the old pear tree stands

the old pear tree stands in opposition to all our ideas of what growing food must look like. all by itself, it feeds the people who live here more than they could ever eat, year after year.

its abundance affirms community, exchange, as we send pears out into the hands of others. there are so many helping hands to thank.

being a fleeting summer pear, not a winter storing pear, it ripens quickly, its only demand is that we act now. as the pears come in, hefting crates, boxes, market baskets, bags and finally anything you can lay your hands on to carry them, they cover every surface. this year there were so many we couldn’t photograph them all at once and hurried to preserve them.

pear butter, pear jelly, pear cheese, pear leather, pear wine, pear brandy, pear vinegar, pear chutney. bottled pears, dried pears. pears into cakes, over porridge, on pancakes, toast. pear on the side, pear as a snack. and what e l s e can we make with pears? intense creativity is an appropriate response.

there’s no need to extract, to exploit. this tree needs almost nothing at all, a pruning, some mulch. with roots growing so deeply in relationship to the orchard, decades of microbial communities making more life, well. we need only be mindful not to interfere, to be good partners with this robust being. we need only give thanks.

it’s a way of being so counter to the dominant vision of industrial extraction which takes too much and never gives back. yet we could accept the perennially kind offerings, do the work of planting more trees, give this future to our children. it’s the best sort of work there is. the trees want us to do it. everyone thrives.

it’s no coincidence that we draw, paint, print, photograph trees. that planting a tree feels like an ancient ritual. that propagating new trees is a pleasure that, once experienced, is anticipated like a child longs for a birthday. in dormancy we make new life. to watch a tree grow is as much meaning as i ever required.

we can shift our vision of what is and what can be. then we can see clearly how we might live in ways that make more life.

bicycle built for two

what if the future looked like foraging on a bicycle built for two?

super electric and nimble, extending our reach, flattening the hills, bringing the island and its shores that little bit closer.

quiet for conversations all along the way.

easy to park in the bushes along any lane.

the right size for carrying a few containers to collect whatever’s in season, whenever we go out, within the rhythm of our days.

just the speed for spotting a path down to the lake or the ocean for a dip after filling all the jars with food freely given by wild plants.

human-powered active transportation, appropriate technology to live lightly on this good earth.

what if caring for the future looks like a lot more joy than what we were doing before?


i know many of you avoid the noisy waves that forms our social media, so i’m including my weeklyish piece for you here on this small and quiet little pond of our own. i hope you enjoy them.