|John's Blog - Sun 2nd Jan 2011||Next >|
Hello World. It's a New Year and a New Start
When I launched the Eco-Hamlets web site back in April 2009, my main aim was to find a few like minded people who would become neighbours. If the idea took off, it would be great, but that was secondary to getting my future sorted. Well it did take off, and almost immediately I got overwhelmed by the amount of enquiries! My ideas obviously appealed to a lot of people, and I was dreading anything appearing in the national media, or even being very widely circulated amongst the "green" community. Fortunately that didn't happen, and after a while I caught up with the backlog, and my sanity was saved (for a while anyway)!
I'd been travelling for nearly two years, and everything was being run over a slow mobile internet connection from my van, as I wandered round the country. Being free to go anywhere something was happening was great, but this was just after the banking crisis, when interest rates did a nosedive, and most of the income to fund my way of life had disappeared, so I was feeling the need to settle down. I also felt that Eco-Hamlets UK needed to become an organisation that did things, rather than just talk. So I started looking for a place for me to live, that would also become a prototype for proving that my ideas work. In June 2009, I was in West Wales, and found what appeared to be an ideal site to get started. It had the potential to create three or four modest sized homes, and I had the cash to buy it. One of the principles of permaculture is to Use Small and Slow Solutions, so starting with a small, manageable project made sense. Looking back over the past 19 months since that day, words like stress and nightmare spring to mind, rather than manageable, but that's a story for another day!
While my attempted purchase was ambling along, I was contacted by Rachel, who lives near Stroud in Gloucestershire. She had found a potential site, and was keen to get people and money together to buy it. I travelled to Stroud, and could see the potential. It was a far from perfect site, with the land being on a north facing slope, but it was a rare opportunity to acquire a site in that area, and with imaginative design, we could have created something inspiring there. We met with the planning officer, and he was supportive, and the owner accepted our offer. We needed to find more people, and I put a lot of work into that, while Rachel worked on plans for the site. We made good progress with the plans, and found plenty of people, but ran out of time and were unable to complete the purchase. It was a disappointment, but my feeling was that it was too big a project to take on at that early stage, although it was worth a try, and an opportunity too good to miss.
Losing the Stroud site showed how important being prepared to act quickly is. We need to have rapid access to people, money and professional advice, and to draft documents and knowledge of a wide range of topics. This is where I feel that the Eco-Hamlets UK concept is so powerful. As part of an organisation working towards creating many settlements rather than just one, we can work together to create a shared knowledge base, and put in place resources and a network of contacts that means we can move fast whenever an opportunity arises.
After some weeks living in a cold, wet and muddy field, I finally completed the purchase of my site in December 2009. I woke up to snow on my first morning there, and within days discovered that a potential problem that I was aware off had become a major problem! It's still not resolved, and for reasons I can't explain, I can't talk about it publicly. I had taken the decision to go ahead with the purchase based on the information I had available, and had put in place provisions to deal with the matter if it should cause a problem at some time in the future. Unfortunately, after completing the purchase, further information came to light that I should have been made aware of beforehand.
At first, I thought the problem would be fairly straightforward to deal with, and would be sorted within a few months. It made sense to put everything on hold for a while until it was sorted out, but after a few months things happened that made the situation worse, and it's still stuck there. With hindsight, I could have spent the last year developing Eco-Hamlets UK, but until someone invents time travel, hindsight only helps with avoiding future mistakes! I've spent the last year observing my site, very good permaculture practice, but not moving the Eco-Hamlets cause forward. I haven't been well due to the stress either, and that hasn't helped, but I'm fed up with that so have decided I'm not doing stress this year. Instead I'm going to make sure lots of Eco-Hamlets get started, and if mine isn't one of them, that's the way it will have to be.
It's a shame that the momentum that was generated in 2009 has been lost. People I talk to are still enthusiastic about the concept, and I feel it's got too much potential to be allowed to die. I've listened to comments and suggestions made by a lot of people, and thought of ways around the problems I've found. I'm currently working on solutions that should be able to cope with greatly increased levels of interest. Be patient for a little longer, exciting things are about to happen!
|John's Blog - Sun 2nd Jan 2011||Next >|
Page created on Sun 2nd Jan 2011 by John. Last updated on Sun 14th Oct 2012 14:33
|John's Blog - Sun 2nd Jan 2011||Next >||
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