By Cai Dodds
For my first post it seems relevant to examine my definition on what I think as "local".
For instance at the beginning of this project I had made plans to go on a primitive skills course in Italy. This brought questions to my involvement with this project as I'd be away from home and questions as to how primitive skills fit into this. It's true this project is founded in Bristol, but for me not solely based here, I want to explore deep into social economical issues, how we reclaim autonomy in our lives and how this is what I believe people are lacking.
Let me begin by saying that leaving England to go on any course for me is a personal battle, not to mention the costs of travel, lack of skills in speaking other languages and strong sense of home here in the west country. I have been avoiding flying most of my adult life and also until the last year or so I've been exceptionally frugal with my money, which has had profound effects on my relationship to work. This journey for me began some years ago, when a guy called Mark Boyle appeared in my life. We first met at an event in the Better Food company at a discussion he led about local gift economy and moneyless living. After that we became friends and I found myself involved in a short documentary on waste food with him for the Guardian. I was also involved in a core group with him discussing the framework for a gift economy land project and from this relationship it deepened my look on our society and how to approach local issues.
My interest in primitive skills stems from Mark's reading suggestion of "End Game" by Derrick Jensen, who writes about the inherently destructive nature of civilization. From this book onwards I have read numerous books, watched many documentaries and attended discussions on topics around the critique of civilization. Primitive skills has come up many times for me and my curiosity has lead me to a desire to learn about them, ancestral knowledge and my heritage. Bush craft was a gateway for me as a white British westerner with no recent memory of my ancestral ways. I attended a weekend course learning the basics in survival and some spiritual elements around connection to land, I've also begun foraging frequently, going on plant ID walks and I'm doing a year long wild medicine course.
learning to make fire by friction, medicating with plants, eating wild food and learning a range of crafts is part of the local agenda. I see it as environmentally beneficial and an arsenal of knowledge for self reliance. This knowledge and skills are what I believe a healthy community needs to know. I am and hope to continue, passing these on to my friends and family whom I consider the closest thing to a tribe in modern day. I can't shape society, tell people how to live, but my presence has an effect on those around me. Whilst I know continuing to participate in shopping and renting I am contributing to a lifestyle I wish to change, my ideas and small changes have an effect on my tribe. So... if you feel the same I salute you.
More from me to come, so watch this space.