Ecology in Practice

If you dont see the problem, take a look at these:-

What a way to go movie /Sally's blog

I am trying to discover and present a coherent strategy to face up to the combined threats of globalisation, climate change, resource depletion, pollution, mass species extinctions, epidemics, crime and insecurity, wars and massacres; coupled with reducing food quality, useful employment, spending power, duration and quality of relationships and political will to confront economic power.

In other words, "How do we handle life today when everything seems to be breaking up around us?"

We must remember that it isn't breaking up; we are breaking it up.

  • We all seek cheaper goods, even on the black market.
  • We demand more goods and services.
  • We take less responsibility for the number, the behaviour or what we feed to our children.
  • We try to keep the available work for us.
  • We wish to deny entry to our country to some who would like to come.
  • We all feel threatened and insecure.
STOP ! ! !

Everyone able to read these words has enough.  None of us is really poor.  I live on 5000$ per year; the world average, and I am considered poor here in France.  In Eastern Europe teachers in post earn less than a third of that. But here I cant find enough work.

Each one of us has his/her personal history which may have made us more or less likely to fall-out, drop-out  or be excluded.  We all have to face up to our own personal problems, in the same climate of fear.  Who can you trust?  Can you trust yourself?

If you cannot you are without hope.  I teach that you can trust yourself.  You, and only you know what  you can do and what you want to do.  If there is a gap between these two, only you can learn the necessary skills to bridge the gap. 

  • We must observe ourselves and our surroundings and accept that what we see is real.
  • We must accept that we cant influence much of it - just a little bit.
  • That's your bit.
I can tell you how to do some of the things that I think are worthwhile; only you can judge for yourself.


Transition Towns


Note ( Ecological principles are concepts which evolve as our interactions develop, and thus the definitions that follow will remain provisional.)

Ecology - the scientific study of the interrelations between living beings and between them and their environment - teaches us to recognise those values which tend towards:

- increasing the responsibility of each individual for their needs and activities within the ecosystem;

- increasing the variety and adaptation of the individuals, and in consequence their independence, process which gives rise to the necessary alternatives for the sustainable evolution of the ecosystem;

- reducing the cost in matter and in energy of our activities and all nuisances for all species;

- maintaining the democracy of our social organisms by assuring the transparency of their operations and by limiting the number of their members;

- The harmony of the needs and activities of all species within the ecosystem.


buildings constructed to a specification to ensure:

1. An ATTRACTIVE SPACE which unites, at least to the level required


which are LOCALLY AVAILABLE without damaging the ENVIRONMENT.

ADAPTED to the MATERIALS and appropriate for

ADAPTION to the CLIMATE( winds, sunshine, cold),


by ANALYSING the PROBLEM and using means that are HARMLESS for the INHABITANTS and the ENVIRONMENT.



This document  is a working document that I produced in order to direct our thinking around this problem.  It represents my thoughts on how to approach the question of building a self-build house.  Developed it will form the basis of future courses for accompanying self-builders. I put it up on the web to stimulate others to contribute in the spirit of shareware - In the public domain there are no patents nor monopolisation of ideas; we demand the recognition of the contribution of each one of us; you have the right to commercialise what you have if you freely distribute all of  the source material.   Nİ      Communicate

- SELF-BUILDING - Peter Lorien - September 2002

 Bens commentary: You mustn't live on your building site!

Building is necessary for our need and our dreams.  It represents a rare occasion to examine the elements of our lives and what we require as a home in which we can be comfortable.  We start with a series of questions. 

  1. I want to build
    1. What?
      1. Store-shed
      2. Barn
      3. Workshop
      4. Public building
      5. Shop
      6. House
        1. How many habitants?
        2. What comfort level?

    2. What do you want to do?
      1. Sleep
      2. Go upstairs
      3. Eat
      4. Cook, washing-up, temperature controlled storage
      5. Washing, toilet
      6. Relaxing, with/without music, TV, drinks.....
      7. Storage
      8. Play
      9. Manuel or physical activities
      10. Reading, writing, study

    3. What sizes?

  2. I have the land
      1. What size?
      2. What shape, view, exposition?
      3. What vegetation, water?
      4. What soil?
      5. What  access?
      6. What services?
      7. What rights of passage?

  3. I have the budget and the means
      1. How much?
      2. How much per m²?
      3. Possibility of a loan, of how much?
      4. Construction materials available?
      5. Workers available?

  4. I have neighbours
      1. Will they be favorable towards my installation?
      2. Do I need planning permission?
      3. Or to declare the work?
      4. Are there limits to the size, style or construction materials to be respected?

  5. I know how to build
    1. What protections?
      1. Against water
      2. Snow
      3. Wind
      4. Temperature changes
      5. Fire
      6. Noise
      7. Insects et rodents
      8. Molds
      9. Break-ins

    2. What services?
      1. Water
      2. Electricity
      3. Gas
      4. Drainage
      5. Sewage treatment
      6. Light
      7. Communications, alarm
      8. Ventilation
      9. Heating
      10. Cold

    3. What structure?
      1. Foundations
      2. Masonry
      3. Built up wood (Log cabins)
      4. Unbaked earth
      5. Timber Frame
        1. Modern (PEPS)
        2. Traditional/daub infilling
        3. Straw bales
        4. WORLEC
      6. Roof covering
      7. Joinery

    4. What Materials?~~~~What Quantities?
      1. Stone
      2. Earth
        1. Unbaked
        2. Baked
      3. Wood
        1. Carpentry
        2. Joinery
      4. Fibres
      5. Modifiers
      6. Plumbing
      7. Electrical and communications installation

    5. What Techniques?
      1. Mason
      2. Builder with unbaked earth
      3. Carpenter
      4. Roofer
      5. Plumber
      6. Electrician
      7. Renderer
      8. Painter
      9. Upholsterer, Basket weaver

  6. I have my plan
    1. Plans of the Site
      1. Drawings of the site and the plan of the building with access, services and the limits of the land.
      2. Drawings of the elevations

    2. The Permissions
      1. Land utilisation limits
      2. Outline planning permission
      3. Planning permission
      4. Declaring the start of the work

    3. The Time Available
      1. List of the work to be done to achieve the construction
        1. Setting-out
        2. Up to the roof
        3. Finishing trades
      2. Work timetable

    4. The Budget
      1. The total inc. VAT per m²
      2. The loans
      3. Contribution in work and in materials
      4. List of the materials to be used
      5. List of the equipment and tools to be brought in
      6. Spending calender

  7. I can do it
    1. Work Organisation
      1. Spacial - the site of the building, storage, working-space, relaxing-space
      2. Temporal - Planning the orders and deliveries

    2. Buying the Materials

    3. Getting together the Equipment and Tools

    4. Signing on the Builders

    5. Carrying out the Work

This document  is a working document that I produced in order to direct our thinking around this problem.  It represents a summary of the design considerations and the outline of a scheme that would fit my criteria.  I put it up on the web to stimulate others to contribute in the spirit of shareware - In the public domain there are no patents nor monopolisation of ideas; we demand the recognition of the contribution of each one of us; you have the right to commercialise what you have if you distribute  freely all of  the source material.   Nİ      Communicate


Ventilation                 Peter Lorien                 2 October 2003 

The requirements of a ventilation system :

  • The necessity for ventilation in a building becomes clear when we consider wind-proof, rain-proof and well insulated structures.
  • For a given volume of living space and a given occupation density, we require an optimum rate of air exchange with the outside world.
  • To rid polluted air of bad smells, combustion gasses, emanations from the building or the furnishings; to facilitate the drying of damp walls and to eliminate cold draughts; it is necessary that the inside of the house is under pressure. (This means that extracter fans, like traditional combustion based heaters work backwards, they suck pollutants and cold draughts into the house.)
  • For a ventilation system to be viable, it must provide the optimum rate no matter what the external conditions.
  • The temperature of the incoming air may have to be modified to reduce heat loss in winter and to reduce its temperature in summer.
  • A ventilation system must function even when external power sources fail.  This implies the employment of purely passive systems or a high degree of autonomy.
  • A ventilation system based on convection in the living space promotes the propagation of unintended fires.
We must remember Boyle's Law :

"The pressure in a given mass of gas is proportional to its temperature and inversely proportional to its volume."

I propose a system based on the use of a pressure chamber, a heat exchanger, reversed convection in the living space, an exhaust chimney functioning by convection and a directional hood to use low pressures to promote suction at the outlet.

I will first describe the separate elements of my proposed system in the order that they encounter the outside air, and then I will describe how they should function in different external conditions.......
(to continue)

Gardening without..............

.....................sensitivity towards nature. 

'The best way to get rid of something is to use it.'    Peter Lorien 16 May 2005
I will start with a whole series of negatives.  The natural environment is not a garden.  Gardens are created by intelligent beings, notably ants and humans, to my knowledge; to cultivate plants that they intend to crop.  This is the practice known as agriculture.

Gardens and farms are artificial environments created to serve our interests.  We can conduct this activity with sensitivity towards the natural environment and ourselves or without such sensitivity.  In the latter case we can see the results in the impact of modern agriculture. 
  • More food is produced and a higher population is maintained, albeit with half of them malnourished and living in misery; the rest seem to be living in fear of suffering from conditions that are induced by the very products used to increase production.
          • Large agricultural companies make huge profits and employ large numbers of people, often in poor conditions for low wages; their well paid workers live in cities and work in offices to maximise the return on the investments.

Being positive for the moment, I can tell you that I am discovering an alternative; known to generations of our ancestors in all regions of the world.  With traditional knowledge and tools, freely available in the public domain, they have been able to sustain the vast majority of humankind up to this point in history. 

At a time when we are fast losing this resource, I think that it is time that we observe, reflect and compromise with all our partners on the planet, in the interests of our own survival.  Each person, family, group can live sensitively with the land around them by adapting to it and it's populations; producing for all their needs. 

My garden is an experiment in how to produce what I require in harmony with my natural partners; my neighbours be they plant, animal or human.  I do not know how to do it; but I'm learning.  These pages are for sharing what I find, with others.  I invite you to share your insights through these pages by e-mailing them to me.

Continuing my negative theme; my garden employs no-digging, no chemical products, and no machines. The wood-chipper and the chainsaw make an appearance at specific times to harvest firewood and building materials.  Earth manipulating machines and pumps follow the same logic.

How can you have a garden without digging ?

Labour seems to be inherent to our concept of agriculture.  In the Bible God tells Adam that he must gain his bread by the sweat of his brow, in labouring the land.  What if God got it wrong?  Since Neitzche has revealed to us that 'God is dead', I dare to suggest that He was wrong and that now we are free to experiment with different agricultural practices.  For example 75% of commercial agriculture in the U.S.A. is carried on using no-digging methods. 

The first person that I met who wrote about his practice of no-digging gardening was Mr. K.(?) Richardson of Keyworth, Nottinghamshire  in England.  He had been engaged in not digging his garden since 1922.  When I visited him in the 1960's I saw a small, almost weed-free garden of deep, black, spongy and crumbly soil inhabited by a high concentration of worms and that produced amazing vegetables.  Mr. Richardson assured me that he and his wife had raised their family of themselves and their two daughters solely from the produce of this small garden throughout the second world war.

Who does this work ?

He explained to me that the earthworms do all the work. 

All he has to do is to ensure that they have :
  • enough to eat
  • that the soil is sufficiently moist
  • that the soil is not compacted,
and the worms would do the rest.

Worms eat compost !

His garden was weed-free because the worms ate all the plants that he didn't want.
Worms eat only dead tissue; they can tell the difference between living and dead tissue, like maggots. 

The Compost Heap

Plant materials, with 1/12 animal excrements which contain the bacteria, are heaped on the ground, and heat up by aerobic fermentation provoked by the humo-bacteria which convert the plant cells into humus.  Some worms, 'lombrics' eat the un-decomposed material exposing it more effectively to the bacteria; others consume the humus and mix it with silts and clays in the soil.  There are around a dozen species of worms in our gardens and each plays a different role in forming the living loam that results; the best and most natural medium for plant roots. 


This whole process requires air; in the garden the wormholes provide it, in the compost heap it is up to us to ensure the necessary aeration and humidity.  The optimum is around 70% relative humidity.  In these conditions the bacteria will guarantee a temperature of around 55 - 60°C and ensure the destruction of parasitic bacteria and a fast decomposition cycle. 


In 1933 in Wyoming, a production plant, like a giant tumble dryer, was built to process domestic organic waste using the same bacteria that we have in our gardens.  In these optimal conditions they do the work in 5 days; in the garden it takes from 6 months to 2 years.  You can help by opening the heap regularly;  if you see white mold it is too dry, black slime means that it's too wet.  Turning the heap is the universal solution for both problems, watering it if it's too dry.  You control the humidity and the bacteria take care of the temperature.

They dig your garden !


Without digging we rely on the worms to get the stuff into the ground.  We spread it all over the ground in a layer up to 5cm thick wherever it is required; if its in short supply, spread it only along the rows and put fresh, un-composted vegetation or wood-chips between the rows.  This ground-cover or mulch will limit weed growth and will gradually be drawn into and mixed with the soil by the worms that live there.  Their population will increase as you feed them.  In a year the worm population will process many tons of soil and your back will be eternally grateful.


Having got rid of all the weeds; and we need the weeds from around 10 times the land that we can compost; we must add grass cuttings, leaves, wood-chips, kitchen waste and 1/12 animal excrements, which help the decomposition processBefore long you will be asking your neighbours to save you their weeds!

What do you do now?

Remaining in my negative mood, what you don't do is to walk all over your nice new plot, carefully aerated by our faithful worms.  Their work will be ruined if you do so.  Mr. Richardson put down planks alongside the row he was working on to spread his load; I maintain permanent pathways between plots, of a metre or so wide, but I have too much land and the cuttings from the pathways help the compost......Ah!  What you do do next is to sow your seeds, covering them with compost, or plant out your plants in small holes that you make with a dibber, filling around the roots with compost and firming the soil lightly.  A light watering and your work is done.  You can relax.


What we require most is patience.  A little watering if it fails to rain and the plants will do their thing. 


Now is the time to get negative again as  we consider chemical products.  Before we consider the products that you may buy, consider the chemical products that you make if you burn rubbish in a bonfire in the garden.  These consist mostly of gases like carbon dioxide, your contribution to the greenhouse effect; carbon monoxide, a poison that our blood absorbs as readily as oxygen; phenols and formols which damage our lungs and cause us to cough (the famous tar that is measured in our tobacco), organo-chlorides which damage the ozone layer, and dioxins from which we all flinch. 
All inflammable materials are compostable. 
So back to the compost heap with all that.

Production for sale

The chemical gardening products are of two kinds; those to help your plants grow better, and those to kill uninvited species.  The former are combinations of chemicals that release nitrogen, potassium or phosphorous into the ground; substances that our plants need to grow.  To a large degree these will be provided in the compost that you have spread out.  However some plants, such as tomatoes may need a liquid manure to stimulate their growth.  This can be provided with a brew made by steeping nettles or comfrey in rainwater for several days (now you're regretting that you eliminated them). This concentrate, or urine are diluted approximately 1 : 10 with rainwater and watered around the plants that need it.  So much for the nitrogen.  Sprinkling wood ash on the ground or in the compost will help with potassium and calcium. I know that bone meal is a source of phosphates but I have never actually used it.  Organic agriculture using such techniques produces high quality vegetables and fruits and you can do the same.

Killing our neighbours

There are chemical products that kill the weeds that invade our crops and there are those which kill the insects and other creatures that eat them.  We have almost dealt with the weeds, but in spite of the mulch some of them will persist in growing in the rows, completing with our plants.  Hoeing will lift them out of the ground to add to the mulch.  Weeding by hand I practice selective weeding which means that some wild plants are left in place.  In particular I leave unknown plants and decorative, alimentary, nitrogenous and medicinal species where they choose to grow, sometimes replanting them to a more suitable location.  Some species are good repellents against moles or insects, these I leave where they can be useful.  In this way I maintain a high biodiversity which is necessary to maintain useful insect populations.

Working hand in hand

Insect poisons are indiscriminate and will kill the useful pollinators and predatory insects that we need in the garden.  Sometimes I have to take off an infestation of Colorado beetle by hand and I use elder leaves to repel aphids but I guess that it must be the birds and predatory insects that take care of the rest.  Instead of spraying copper based fungicides I insert a piece of copper wire through the stems of affected plants, which works just as well.  The ants just move on when I need the place and before returning they work a lot on piles of drying or rotting vegetation.

Introducing new neighbours

Now that we have a productive and non-toxic living space we can introduce other species to share the work in the garden with us.  I started with chickens.

The dog

Actually I already had a dog which apart from telling me when I have visitors, keeping to the path and not sleeping (very often) on the beds, makes little contribution to the garden.  He had been ill for a number of years with an auto-immune disease but my income did not allow me to treat him.

A visit to the Vet

One day he had an ear infection which made a great deal of puss and a lady who saw him at the market was shocked by this and his general state of health.  She insisted on taking him to the Vet who treated him for 100€.  Two weeks later he was much improved but his ear infection had returned.  I phoned the Vet who suggested a remedy at 14€, beyond my budget, and without any guarantee that it would be finished, but she added that at least I could bathe the ear with an antiseptic solution.  She gave me the list of all the products that I could buy but didn't have.  I noticed a sprig of rosemary that I had just planted as a cutting and made some rosemary tea.  I bathed his ear with this and the following day it was healed.  Some weeks later the infection returned and a repeat treatment did the trick; it has not since returned.


This experience stimulated me to look out my bible for animals - The Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable by Juliette de Bairacli Levi - and browsing it I read her notes on diet.  She invented the <Natural Rearing Diet> in the 1930's with many Crufts champions to prove it's value.  I had been feeding my 20kg dog, 1.75kg of tinned dog food and biscuits a day.  On his new diet he gets 4 handfuls of flakes at lunchtime, with eggs, milk, gravy or water and 400g of raw meat in the evening; less that half of what he had had before.  He is transformed; full bodied, shiny coat and an end to sundry infections.  This diet is cheaper than before and I recommend it to you all.  Nadine was quite impressed.

The cat

The cat lives on the same diet with more milk but smaller quantities.  She catches some of the mice but cant seem to handle all the mice that accumulate around the house at the end of winter.  Maybe I should stop feeding her or get more cats.  At the moment I have an annual purge with anti-coagulant mouse poison to keep their numbers down.  At least she has learned to leave the birds alone.

The chickens

At last I get to the chickens. I had built them a typical chicken shed but they never liked being locked in for the night and one day two broody hens were taken from their nests by a fox, in the daytime.  Several had taken to roosting on my scaffolding and the rest followed.  I built them a high roof, 3.5m with perches just below and nest boxes at eye level.  This they have adopted relieving me of the chore of locking them up at night and letting them out again in the morning. People tell me that I should have clipped their wings, leaving them to the mercy of predators! Intact they are surviving and multiplying.  Only birds that go off on their own are now taken.  The evolutionary effect of this is that they form an homogeneous group, the cocks warning off predators.

Putting them to work

They spend their time scratching the earth and eating grubs, insects, seeds and worms.  By allowing them to accompany me when I am clearing land, cutting off the weeds, they loosen up the soil and clean the area.  They spread the cut vegetation allowing it to dry more efficiently.  The worms that they eat are a small price to pay.  I do not let them onto seed beds where they would wreak havoc.  They provide eggs and the occasional fowl for the pot. Wheat and maize grain supplements what they find in he garden.

Lucy duck

She is the last one left of several Muscovy ducks that Laurent gave me.  Although I have ponds she spends her time away from my garden, perhaps in the hope of meeting others of her kind.  She still returns for the grain and to have a wash; ducks do this all the time.  While she is here she  tours the vegetable garden eating all the slugs and snails that she finds.  She does not damage the crops and even walking on them with her broad webbed feet does them no harm.  When I can, I must get her some companions, but they will need their own roost as they're not so friendly with the chickens.

The future

When I have converted the original chicken shed into a sheep shed and installed sheep fencing throughout my orchard,  I intend to get a sheep or two to provide milk.  Sheep's milk is rich and good to taste.  It makes the best butter, cheeses and yoghourt.  Sheep crop the grass low and maintain clean meadows.  Unlike goats, horses and donkeys they do not attack trees.  Their manure makes an excellent brew for growing tomatoes and suchlike, and is good for the land in general.

The missing Machines

My neighbours tell me to use a rotovator, a mower and other 'labour-saving' devices.  They even offer to lend me theirs.  Once or twice I have let them come and demonstrate the wonders that they can perform. No-digging seems to have put pay to the rotovator, and when I tell them to cut closer to the ground they tell me that the machine can't handle it and that they must make two passes.  I cut everything in one pass with my scythe and  sickles.  I can stop before I cut out an interesting plant and I advance almost as quickly as they do and with so much less noise.  They leave a smell like a motorway for hours after their intervention.  I can quite simply do without them, saving me the expense and the inconvenience.  Scything is good for my back, the rotation of the spinal column helps the discs to maintain their alignment.

Stop being negative and plant the potatoes

Having got over my negative comments I shall introduce you to the natural way to plant potatoes.  In the wild, potatoes grow in the litter on the forest floor, they do not grow in soil.  Our fathers and grandfathers in their limited wisdom burned all the litter and were obliged to bury their potatoes in the soil leading, I am sure, to the blight epidemic that caused the Irish potato famine; which incidentally gave the Americans a generation of such 'brilliant' politicians. 

Planting under straw

I follow nature and, after cutting off the weeds, I place my potatoes on a bed of compost. After watering the ground I cover them with around 20cm of hay or straw.  When they show through I again add around 20cm of straw and in the absence of rain they are thoroughly watered once a week throughout the growing season. Very few weeds show through alongside them and they grow quite normally. 

New potatoes

As I begin to get impatient after a month or so I lift the edge of the straw to discover a few potatoes of a decent size.  These I take off carefully recovering the smaller ones as I go.  For a month or so I can eat fresh new potatoes whilst the rest are still growing.  When the tops have died down I remove the straw, about half of which remains reusable for a similar purpose.  The potatoes are to be seen laying on the ground where they can be collected without digging. 


This method is described by W.E. Shewell-Cooper in his excellent book - The Complete Vegetable Grower - published in 1955.  He describes the experience of Mr. A. Guest, a man in his seventies who maintained an acre of garden by no-digging methods with 3 hours work a day in spring, summer and autumn, and not more than 1 hour a day in winter.  Mr. S-C however still proposes that we plant our potatoes as our fathers did, considering that only the old need to think of their backs!


It is important to use rainwater in the garden and for irrigating our indoor plants.  It is slightly acid and contains nitrogen and other organic and mineral substances including calcium.  This water must not be stored in a cement or lime rendered tank because it will neutralise the acidity.  It should be stored in a reservoir waterproofed with expansive clay, or in wooden barrels.  It will be warmer than tapwater, more useful and cheaper.

Back to the weeds///


March 2002

We are sharing our planet with a dangerous monster which is taking away our jobs, our property our dignity, and finally our hope. It is degrading the quality of life of all of us.  Even our power to fight against it is being absorbed and our motivation is constantly distracted.  We cannot stop it. We will be destroyed if we fight against it - or seem to. We can only join it if we can be profitable to it.  We cannot live totally without or outside of it as long as it continues.

But what is it?

It is the global economic system, and the tendency towards monopolism that drives it;    called   by   some liberalism, capitalism, in other localities it appears as market communism. In the early 1960's Pierre Cardin described it as corporatism and included the USSR. It is not only these things.  The governments, political and legal institutions which claim to control it are indeed financed by it. What we call public services are part of it being financed by a percentage of its profits which we call taxes and charges.  These are also levied on our; salaries and all that we buy. In Britain in the early 1970’s they were calculated at around 80% of the average income for the average person.

It controls all means of communication, information, publicity, study and research but it cannot totally control the content, which alone comes from individual creative energies.  It has the means to buy the majority of the content and the infrequent, out of context item even gives the illusion of free expression.

It has a unique objective, to make a profit for the owners of the land, the raw materials, the installations, the equipment, the goods, the ideas, the processes and the infrastructure; who jointly monopolise the provision of the goods and services on which we depend. Even the most isolated   communities   being increasingly drawn into its domain. The owners of this vast globalised   economy   practice investment - and disinvestment - for their own personal profit. No other personal motive can replace the profit motive.    Without profits the system would soon collapse. So each one of us that considers themselves an owner -and  most  of  us  still  have something - continues this horrific quest for personal profit, to get one over on their neighbour.

We can see where this is leading us: in a perpetual game in which each one risks their capital - their work, investment or ideas - to obtain a profit or, of course, a loss. The losers sell their work and ideas - their investment being lost - to others who, of course, profit from it. More and more of us can no longer play the game but many are tempted by lotteries into risking part of their meagres resources in a vain hope of fortune. In spite of our continued ownership of a few possessions, unless we are able to assure our own autonomy, we are non-owners, the poor.

Globalisation and technological advance mean that they need our labour less and less, as revealed in the rising levels of un- or under­employment.     The rise is underestimated by the dubious process of removing categories from the unemployment statistics; so that the average 3 - 4 millions of unemployed declared in most West    European countries represent 8 millions according to the method of calculation in use 50 years ago. Then, the number of unemployed was counted in the tens of thousands.   We are experiencing a dramatic slide into uselessness,   accompanied   by feelings of inadequacy and guilt, of a growing number et people throughout the world  We are called  refugees  or  economic migrants,   beggars,   tramps, squatters, travelers, protesters, delinquents, criminals, terrorists. Sometimes we are; mostly we're depressed or more generally mentally ill.

Depression is increasing at an alarming rate and grouped with other mental illnesses, ranks as the worlds third most serious illness affecting 1 in 4 at same time  during  their  lifetime. Although mental illness has mostly psychological i.e. relational and hence social causes, the main treatments offered are tranquilisers and sedatives in an attempt to make sufferers operational, that is employable if required. They rarely are.

We must face the fact that we are no longer required. Cheaper workers in third-world countries and automation are replacing our previous functions, our reason for being here. We must face up to the fact that we are not the owners, that we are no longer required and that we are not dead - yet. In the meantime we can act differently.

Alongside this monstrous machine which takes all our resources in return for frequently suspect products we can create new forms of relations with others which no longer seek to profit. What I call - good business - business with profits for both sides. Not the ‘winner takes all' system that is ubiquitously on offer.

There is a system of neighbourliness which operates between the members of extended families and more generally among the poor. I once heard that "our friends and enemies come and go. The neighbours are always there." You may, or may not like each other, that can be modified by the behaviour that you cultivate between you. You can be yourself, openly  and without hypocrisy. You can respect them; that is to accept that they are who they are and that they are not likely to depart; that you cannot always rely or them. Sometimes you can. To do this we must get to know them. This can only grow from honest, frank and respectful exchanges.  We can learn that our particular strengths and weaknesses can compliment    one    another. Networks of such relationships enable the satisfaction of needs in poor communities.

The rules that govern them are simple.  We live close to each other, we respect one another, we start to know one another and we come to trust one another; just how far in each case. This multi-layered   structure   of relationships is a system of solidarity.  We are building a new system   as the economic system leaves us aside.

Let us understand its values and live by them.   The economic monster cannot   destroy   all   the relationships that we build. It does have its weak points; feeding on human energies and natural resources.  It is destroying the natural world but our human energy is our own.  When we no longer have any investment in the economy we have only our lives to lose and we will lose them in any case. 

Let us take control of our own lives again.

  • If we want to know our neighbour we can communicate without profit.
  • If we wish to help our neighbour we con employ our creative energies outside the economy by giving our work without profit.
  • If we trust our neighbour we can share our facilities without profit.
  • If we  want our neighbour's trust we can behave so that we earn it.
  • If we feel like it we con have fun together.

This is our capital.

Let us invest it in ourselves in non-profit sharing with our neighbours.

We can.

Nİ                Lorien F31310