Monday, 20 April 2015

The Biophilia Project Full Text

An alignment of self with nature

A thought for the future - 2020 vision
To build a liberating legacy for enlightening tomorrow's children

Evolving Philosophy - outline of the journey

An odyssey of individual & collective enterprise to define & develop models & steps towards a future in which humanity could live in enriching harmony with nature. Nature being ourselves, fellow animals & our ecosystem - the biosphere of Planet Earth.

Mindful of the passage of time, reconnecting to the phases of sun and moon - the seasons of Earth as well as our flesh and bone - celebrating adolescence, adulthood and the changes into elders status.

Embracing tree life. We coexist with trees in a symbiotic relationship rooted in breathing out CO2, the fuel for trees, who exhale our oxygen. The damage done to Earth's trees has now reached catastrophic levels and those they foster, our plant and animal species, are also declining at an alarming rate.

To tread gently around Goffin’s tree life introducing new genetic identity in creating harmonious accord with the resident hosts.

A respect for the Mother Pelican “Working hypothesis” that:

“The patriarchal culture of control and domination is the root of all social and ecological violence. It corrupted the original unity of man and woman (cf. Genesis 3:16) and is now disrupting the harmony between humanity and the human habitat”

To explore practices for synergistic co-operation where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. An acknowledgement that best prospects for a creative collectively enriching journey require commitment to a social responsibility that is both above & inclusive of self interest.

To nurture the concept of collaborative community, openly embracing the recognised behavioural realities of our species & practicing to steer them for the benefit of the common good. To be actively engaged in attempts to transcend the negative traits in the human “animal” in pursuit of a philosophy grounded in the Bioregional One Planet Principles.

To be as "off grid" and independent as possible. To stimulate biodiversity and nurture the local biosphere. To experiment with innovations in permaculture where permaculture is defined as. 

Care of the Earth   ---   Care of the People   ---   Share the Surplus
(In the words of Satish Kumar: Soil, Soul, Society)

To open doors onto the wisdom and ingenuity of our species and to relay these creative practices that have benefited us, our planet and its biodiversity.

The overall project is to create a green oasis from the stress of the modern life offering therapeutic, learning and play opportunities to community, fellow travellers and those is need of a helping hand.

To build a liberating legacy for enlightening tomorrow's children.

The links below are to  pioneering organisations / communities which generally resonate with me. I trust readers will find some common ground with these ideas which are spreading widely in the 21st Century. 

My hope is to follow the lead given by these organisations in a practical but small way, whilst respecting neighbours and the local community.

The overall ambition is to create the foundations for an ongoing project exploring creative and enriching non mainstream ways of "being" with each other and our natural environment.

The journey for me is to explore an analytical conscious application of our cognitive potential in light of our knowledge of the unique individual - the individual that is moulded by the dominant authority, media, education, group culture etc. 

John Yates  ....  July 2013

Camp Kernow, near Truro, Cornwall, is an award-winning organisation with an innovative off-grid environmental adventure centre dedicated to reconnecting and engaging children with the natural environment and inspiring them to live more sustainably.

Tamera in Southern Portugal is an international training and experimental site for the development of peace research villages and healing biotopes worldwide. "Those who don`t want war need a vision for peace".

Embercombe is a charity and social enterprise established to champion a way of living that celebrates the opportunities inherent in this challenging time and that inspires people to contribute  energetically towards the emergence of a socially just, environmentally sustainable and spiritually fulfilling human presence on earth.

The Centre for Alternative Technology, CAT, is an education and visitor centre which demonstrates practical solutions for sustainability. It covers all aspects of green living: environmental building, eco-sanitation, woodland management, renewable energy, energy efficiency and organic growing.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Directions - Goffin Land - Exeter

Church Hill  EX4 9JL  .......... Directions & plan below

An oasis from the steel and concrete stress of the modern built environment based on 96 acres of meadows and woodland overlooking northern Exeter. Access by foot from Beacon Heath, by transport, from the hill line bordering the city.

“a beautiful site consisting of ancient woodland and long established pasture with views out to the Exe estuary. It really felt like we were in the middle of nowhere and when we occasionally came over the brow of a hill to catch a glimpse of the city it always came as a surprise”
Caroline Aitkin,
 (Colleague of the great but sadly late, Patrick Whitefield)

Goffin Land is just above Pinhoe/Beacon Heath.

The northern access is Church Hill,  Exeter, EX4 9JL. 

If you look on Google Maps with that post code you will see a drive running south off Church Hill - sometimes to Udder House, which is now called Goffin  Farm House. A sat nav will take you there, way past the Goffin Land entrance which is directly in front of the barn complex you see once you turn off from Church Hill.

You may see Mid Devon Chili Farm or Goffin Farm House, depends on the browser etc.

From Exeter take Stoke Hill to Stoke Post junction. Church Hill is to the right, sign posted Pinhoe.

From the North,  take the A396  Tiverton - Exeter road. Immediately south of the bridge after Stoke Cannon take left fork, Stoke Hill to Stoke Post where there are two turnings to the left. Take the second, sign posted Pinhoe. 

The first right hand turning, 300 metres from Stoke Post, is the drive to Goffin Land. At present a Stags FOR SALE sign is on this junction

The southern access is via a 400 metre bridle path from Pinwood Lane / junction of Beacon Heath & Beacon Lane EX4

Saturday, 14 March 2015

How it works

By offering mixed opportunity for desired goals to core participants, providing housing for some, employment for others, social and therapeutic activity for all, in general agreement with Buckminster Fuller idea that:

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that
makes the existing model obsolete.” 

As a gathering zone for enquiring minds open to learning, developing and sharing new and rediscovered creative practices that benefit our species and our natural environment whilst respecting other life forms.

Through active engagement of all these parties in developing a shared philosophy that collaborative communities, constantly honing their individual and collective cognitive abilities, offers us and our progeny the best hope of a safe and enriching journey into the future.

This biodiverse sanctuary offers a broad range of activities to core and visiting participants for skill & knowledge exchange - emphasising continuity of involvement and co-operation - conscious of Robert Axelrod’s thought that

 “The foundation of cooperation is not really trust, but the durability of the relationship.”

“Whether the players trust each other or not is less important in the long run than whether the conditions are ripe for them to build a stable pattern of co-operation” (providing mutual benefit)

“For cooperation to prove stable, the future must have a sufficiently large shadow ... the importance of the next encounter between the same two individuals must be great enough to make noncooperation an unprofitable strategy."

Friday, 13 March 2015

What is it?

City farm, based on appropriate permaculture practices, features animal husbandry, market garden, eco cohousing settlement, community learning zone, stimulating play scape,  & therapeutic training facility. A meeting place, wholesome food canteen featuring home produced dishes and a convivial space for serendipitous occasion.

Supported by a camp site plus eco cottages in micro hamlets in the woods & meadows serving as visitor retreats and accommodation for range of activities.

Affordable housing 

An eco cohousing settlement with a range of common facilities  based on an ethos of durable affordability and shared equity. The settlement is entwined with co-operative enterprises dedicated to the following activities:

Permaculture & husbandry - horticulture & market gardening.

Producing chemical free food for the local market, on site use in a canteen and in “pop-up” camping kitchens. Food production systems support range of courses and involvement opportunities for learning, relaxation and therapeutic benefit. Featuring renowned tutors and practitioners. Community involvement is integrated with sessions on food preparation and cooking skills linked to weight loss and guides to healthy life styles for youth and elders alike.

Woodland creation & management

An evolving story of trees. Trees and woods filter our air, cool our cities, purify our water and enrich our soil. They should be home to a host of animal and bird life, plants and fungi.

The Biophilia Project works to enrich the Goffin Lands with a diverse range of fruit and timber trees interspersed with new selections offering enriched year round beauty for the babbling brook sides, pretty woods, nooks and dells where guests and visitors can become one with a beautiful oasis from the steel and concrete of our modern built environment just a mile away.
On mindfulness, healthy living & well-being

Meditation and yoga are linked with social activity and therapeutic training with specialist support for wounded souls and those down on their luck. These activities are anchored on the accumulated knowledge of our species innate tendencies and the negative effects of modern western societal influences - indoctrinating education, Hollywood and the mass corporate media.

A recognition of the influences of early childhood and developmental years. Acknowledging the effect that low family income can have on these factors.

A recognition that as a species our brains are running 21st Century software on hardware mostly not updated for 50 000 years. This heritage results in a rigidly programmed pattern of behaviour labeled Sphexish:

“Our species possesses an ancient heritage, forces of evolution honed and sculpted our bodies and our minds - [the physical brain if you believe, more or less in the Darwinian theory of evolution].

This patrimony has enormous impact on how we see the world and how we live our lives”
David Livingston Smith

Full life learning on our Sphexish heritage.

We are all one but we are not the same and many personal traits can be recognised as part of our immediate, two / three hundred years, of family history. Our early childhood, later childhood, adolescents and adult life shape and reshape our being. Play is enormous part of learning and delight in living. Play will feature strongly in all aspects of the project's programmes.

Since the early 1990’s robust research has revealed that our brains and therefore our abilities and proclivities can evolve dramatically.

The education system in Finland, Save Our Childhood Movement UK and other pioneering initiatives are revealing amazing potential for raising our personal aspirations, intellectual abilities as well as revealing innate empathic, sharing and caring behaviours. When viewed as evolutionary skills central to our progress and now domination of this planet, this spiritually offers immense opportunity to develop new models of collective enterprise, responsibility and a new meaning to the word “democracy”. 

The project will develop opportunity for people of all ages to engage in especially via heuristic learning and play.

Eco building techniques

Learning, developing, teaching and constructing ecologically sound buildings. The focus is on utilising natural local resources, earth, timber, recycled waste for ongoing construction of eco lodges / vacation units to serve as essential income for the custodianship of the land & overall project and as a facility to link with courses and volunteering "off season".

Featuring eco cottages, micro homes, timber yurts, cob summer houses, earth ship biotecture and more. Off season these eco units also provide essential security for animal stock and the accommodation itself plus protects farming resources for vandalism.

Magical adventure trail

A puzzling and fun trail from Beacon Heath bridle path through Corinne's Wood following the Pin Brook and along Corinne's Way to Serendipity and the reciprocal framed Round House and Barn Canteen.


* Families and individuals seeking a more shared life in a cohousing eco village. This will include housing association tenants from the local community. (based on the example of Threshold Cohousing)

* The diverse range of people interested in living and working on the land. This includes participants on courses from sustainable building techniques to permaculture, chicken rearing, bush craft etc. 

* Directly and indirectly, NHS patients who might benefit from psychotherapy, mindfulness, meditation, yoga etc. enriched by a connection with the outdoors (eco psychology).

* Directly and indirectly, NHS patients who seek to combat obesity and acquire skills for greater wellbeing and healthy living. Target groups being adolescents and young adults.

* Ex servicemen effected by PTSD

* Students engaged in "Inclusion services".

* Over 50’s seeking to acquire skills to live a longer healthier later life. 

* Local school children via the education services or private engagement in forest school / play activity.

* Woodcraft Folk / Scouts movement.

* The ecological movements in Exeter and beyond for wide ranging activity

* Holiday makers seeking ecological / cultural engagement.

* The immediate local community of Beacon heath / Mincinglake related to many of the elements above.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

The Clover Experiment:

In search of Soil, Soul and Society

An invite to green fingered diggers and dreamers of the four leaf clover - symbolising -

A spirit of faith, hope and love when diligence can be the mother of good luck.

A very rare opportunity to participate in an experiment in a practical exposition of permaculture principles - care of the earth, care of the people, share the surplus. Goffin Lands, a city farm of 96 acres of meadow and woodland above Beacon Heath has a meadow called Clover which is ear marked for a horticulture and market gardening enterprise.

It's early days at Goffin Lands. The overall project is to create an oasis from the stress of the modern life offering therapeutic, learning and play opportunities to community, fellow travellers and those is need of a helping hand - the Biophilia Project.

For three years, and maybe more, some land is available in a meadow named  Clover and another adjacent field, for growing food in collaborative engagement aimed at creating synergistic opportunity with the overall Biophilia Project.

How to configure such an engagement and 
how to share with whom?  ..... That’s the experiment

For the Clover Experiment the goals are:

1)  To produce an abundance of organic salad and vegetables on the clay rich soil by learning from past masters, ourselves and through individual and collective ingenuity.

2) To explore how we, as nature and healthy local food enthusiasts, can work effectively for a mutually beneficial common purpose.

3) To set of on a journey inspired by Satish Kumar to better understand the connection between soil, soul and society - to nurture a spiritual ambition to transcend ego by embracing eco. 

Please read Satish Kumar: the link between soil, soul and society

4) To embrace Albert Einstein’s advice:  Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow and never stop questioning.

See the links below for information about the Goffin Lands, Satish Kumar's insight and the Four Leaf Clover legend. There will be more info about tree planting, the woodlands and community engagement - all in good time - 

Yours in hope of a brighter future  ............  John Yates (custodian)

1. Address: Church Hill, Exeter , EX4 9JL - Page with plan of land and directions

2. A missive by a permaculture expert which gives a good “feel” for the meadows and woods.

3. Four Leaf Clover - legend:

4. Satish Kumar: the link between soil, soul and society:

Soil - Soul - Society

Satish Kumar: the link between soil, soul and society 

We are losing connection with the soil. Satish Kumar wants us to understand the connection between soil, soul and society and drop ego in favour of eco

Many historical movements in the world have three key words that express their spirit. During the French Revolution the words were "liberté, égalité, fraternité", in the American Declaration of Independence they were "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".
The implication of both phrases is very similar. It is human life, human liberty, human equality and human happiness. Even the words adopted by the New Age movement - "mind, body, spirit" - refer to the human mind, human body and human spirit. It's an anthropocentric worldview - the view that human beings are at the centre of the universe.
This worldview is no longer valid - we are utterly dependent on other species and we have to take care of them. We are members of one Earth community and need a new trinity that is holistic and inclusive, that embraces the entire planet and all species upon it. So I propose a new trinity of soil, soul, society. Soil represents the entire natural world. Without soil there is no food and without food there is no life, trees, forests, animals or people.
In our education systems, we have come to think that soil simply means dirt and that dirt means dirty. But dirt is not dirty; it is the source of life. Without it there is no life.
We are related to and dependent on the soil. If somebody grows food, we think: "Oh poor man, peasant, labourer - he is not educated so he has to grow food." If you are educated you don't grow food - you manufacture cars, televisions, computers or work in a bank or office. We sit at our computers and our food comes from somewhere. 
The word peasant itself has become a term of an insult. I want to change that. I want to reinstate a respect for soil. We must touch the soil. How many times do we touch our mobile phone every day? Maybe 100 times. How many times do we touch the soil? Hardly ever. We must give dignity to peasants, farmers and gardeners.
We are all part of this healthy web of life maintained by soil. The Latin word humus means soil. The words human, humility and humus all come from the same root. When humans lose contact with soil, they are no longer humans.
Trees, animals, plants, rocks, mountains, rivers, worms, butterflies, honeybees – all have intrinsic value. They have the right to be as they are. We talk about human rights, and that's fine. But nature also has rights. The trees have a right to exist. We have no right to cut them down without proper purpose. When we recognise the rights of nature, then we have understood the meaning of the word soil.
The second word in my new trinity is soul. Soul is something we cannot see. The human body we can touch, hug, kiss and admire, but in order to touch soul I have to close my eyes. Everything – trees, animals, worms and humans – has a soul. Soil is the outer landscape and soul, the inner landscape.
We need to take care of the soul, as we take care of the soil. But we can only take care of the soul when we slow down. Take time for ourselves. Meditate on the fact that you represent the totality of the universe. There is nothing in the universe that is not in you, and there is nothing in you that is not in the universe. The universe is the macrocosm and you are the microcosm. You are earth, air, fire, water, imagination, creativity, consciousness, time and space – you have all this in your soul, in your genes and in your cells. You are billions of years old.
So if you want to take care of the universe, start with your soul. Care of the soul is for self-realisation. When you are at home within, you are at home in the universe. Taking care of yourself, being at ease with yourself, being happy within yourself, being fulfilled in yourself is a prerequisite, an imperative for self-realisation. Everything you truly need and want is within you. You are capable of solving every problem in the world with your inner wisdom.
If you want power, possessions and clutter, it is because you have lost touch with your soul. Then your soul is hungry or empty. But that emptiness will not be filled by computers, cars or mobile phones. Slow down and take care of your soul. Without spiritual fulfilment there is no happiness. Spiritual poverty is the greatest poverty, greater than any physical poverty. And as we take care of the soil, we take care of the soul. When we take care of both we achieve true wellbeing.
Caring for the soul has nothing to do with individualism or ego. This is why I include the word society in this trinity. We are members of the Earth community and we are also members of the human community.
If I think of myself as Indian then I will see others as Europeans or Africans. If I am a Hindu then I will see others as Christians or Muslims. But if I see myself as a human being, then I see everyone else as human beings. This way I can rise above my narrow identity and identify myself instead with all of human society.
We need to embrace all of society. We need to solve social problems of poverty and wars with imagination, compassion, creativity and forgiveness. All problems can be solved by negotiation, friendship, giving in, letting go of ego and going into eco. Let us make a shift from from self-interest to mutual-interest of whole human society. If we can have a holistic view of soil, soul and society, if we can understand the interdependence of all living beings, and understand that all living creatures – from trees to worms to humans – depend on each other, then we can live in harmony with ourselves, with other people and with nature.
Article from The Guardian
Satish Kumar is the editor-in-chief of Resurgence & Ecologist.
His new book Soil, Soul, Society is published by Leaping Hare Press.

City Farm - Exeter

Permaculture Project

Want to live on the land - grow or hunt your own food in co-operation with others on a common journey towards a brighter future?

All food, shelter, energy and some expenses offered in a collaborative enterprise to germinate seeds that will flourish with the love and care of like minds.

A warm invite to participate in the founding of an oasis in the acrid uncultured desert that is material consumerism. The seeds of the Biophilia Project are being planted on the Goffin Lands - 96 acres of meadow and woodland on hills overlooking Beacon Heath, Exeter City.

A stepping stone and shelter from the dystopian modern world offered possibly this autumn - more likely in Spring 2016, initially on three monthly cycles.

July 2015. Mains water, one bore hole yet to be tested, two barns ordered. Kilometre of tracks laid - hardstanding rolled. Ready to go.

The Biophilia Project: a thought for the future  ......

To build a liberating legacy for enlightening tomorrow's children

An alignment of self with nature on an odyessey of discovery inspired by permaculturist Patrick Whitefield's words:

'Permaculture is not about dogma. It's not about knowing the right answers, but asking the right questions, the answers to which, will be different for each person and each place."

Want to know more?

My name is John Yates. I'm the custodian of Goffin Land's. My plan is to form a trust and maybe a charity to carry me and fellow travellers forward on this odyssey I've launched into. It's early days. I've introduced myself to the land and started the learning process and am trying to ask the right questions as Patrick Whitefield advised.

Germination of the seeds that are being sown will be require passion and commitment to nurture them on to their cycle of life. Passion and commitment for a better world expressed through reflective inquiry into nature, which of course we are part, is as essential as "application". Is it "I think therefore I am" or "I do therefore I am" - as the result of my labour, individually and collectively?

At present barns are ready to be built. Both will have electric power, PV and water. One, a Douglas Fir framed, 20 x 10 metres cherry clad barn, will have toilets, showers, small "agricultural" canteen. It will be well insulated and have a wood burning fire.

I can promise the early days will be an adventure. I have not yet got accommodation sorted out - not for myself or others. "Others" at present are a number of "Goffin Watchers" plus a handfull of locals looking to find the best way to climb onboard.

For this Think Grow Eat post, the first stage is to test response from this invite posted by Cari. Then an evaluation of the next step which I hope would be a gathering.

For more info read the Biophilia blog site. This will become a wordpress site as soon as I have time.

I'm very happy for you to phone - e-mail is to me a barrier to the level of communication I seek - so please do phone if possible, 01363 866414 if not jwhy17 a*t yahoo d*t co d*t uk

This is as much a quest to discover a more synergistic and mutually enriching way to build human relationships as it is about our relationship with the soil. Another Partrick Whitefield quote:

"Every eco-system is composed of a vast web of beneficial relationships. This web of relationships is the fundamental principle which enables natural ecosystems to be highly productive without the destructive inputs of corporate chemicals. This natural web of relationships is also the central idea of permaculture. It can be applied to both food production and a wide range of other human activities."

The late and great Patrick Whitefield 1949 - 2015 [Redacted] 

Four Leaf Clover

From a symbolic point of view, there is an ancient legend that gives a spiritual meaning to the four-leaf clover.

According to this mystical story, the four-leaf clover was a plant that grew in abundance in Paradise where Adam and Eve lived. After being banished from Eden, Eve took a small clover with 4 petals, to help her reveal before her eyes, invisible demons, evil beings that otherwise she was not able to see.

This clover gave her protection and a blessing when facing the terrors of the world. Later in Celtic myth it was given the symbolism  of nature and a  blessing of love and prosperity.

A note from the author, the custodian of Goffin Lands:
The 21st Century has an abundance of terror and some spiritual enlightenment could give us a helping hand. I’ve yet to discover a four leaf clover.  However the intention is to keep questioning how I can nurture the potential that exists with the Goffin Lands for some of the ancient myths to have Earthly reality.

In the spirit of hope for a brighter future   ...  John Yates

The ancient myths - each clover leaf symbolizes some special meaning

* The first is for hope:
Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.

* The second is for faith:
With out confidence and trust in our journey there is no hope.

* The third is for love:
A flower doesn’t blossom without sunshine and humans will not bloom without love.

* The fourth is for luck:
Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.