Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Feelings vs. Thinking and Tidy Towns

Listening to a discussion at the Transition Towns get together for Cork groups at Cork Institute of Technology last week reminded me of a field trip at Shumacher College back in September 2001. The discussion was something like, we are working with the Tidy Towns committees to try and get them to understand the benefits of not spraying the road sides. "They could poison us" said the road side food gatherers.

As part of a course in Business and Sustainability run at Schumacher College (and if you ever get the chance to go there it is a wonderful experience) we did a field trip with a deep ecologist. We agreed the green fields of grass were deserts of monoculture, admired the cattle in the ancient water meadow (as I scoffed some very tasty blackberries. Nobody else would eat them and I wondered if I had missed a part of the lecture where we were told to leave the fruit to the birds.) After a bit of experiencing the wonder of trees we came to a field which had clearly not been touched for some years, with a wide mix of plants up to four feet high. Our tutor asked us how this field made us feel. The class expressed their appreciation of the wide mix of ecology, the animal and plant systems dependent on each other. At last I could hold my tongue no longer, "It makes me feel awful" I said. It's uncared for, unloved. It makes me want to get in there with a mower and tidy it up!". The tutor could not understand me. "But don't you see how the mix of plants and insects and animals create an ecosystem?". I couldn't explain to him that I was simply answering his question. How the field made me feel had little relation to what I thought about the field. While I like to think I have strong sustainability leanings and try to run my small farm as organically as possible, some fundamental part of me believes farmers have a responsibility to tend their fields, keep the grass grazed, the ground fertilised and hedges trimmed. No amount of logic is likely to change that feeling.

I think it will be a long, long time before you could convince a Tidy Towns committee or the judges (or me) that the verges should be left to run wild. No amount of explaining the benefits of sustainability are likely to have much impact on our own feelings about what cared for or tidy looks like. It says something about our culture that we assume that if we can simply explain logically our thinking, that this will change someone else's feelings about something. Do other cultures suffer under the same beliefs?

Tidy Towns at Work:

Monday, June 8, 2009

Dolores in Foal!

Dolores (broken pelvis horse) scanned in foal today to French Buffet (TB) standing at Kylemore Stud in Co. Galway (b. miles away). 10 months to go but with a bit of luck there should be a foal next april! So excited.

<-- The mother

The father