“But is not an event in fact more significant and noteworthy the greater the number of fortuities necessary to bring it about?
Chance and chance alone has a message for us. Everything that occurs out of necessity, everything expected, repeated day in and day out, is mute. Only chance can speak to us. We read its message much as gypsies read the images made by coffee grounds at the bottom of a cup…..
Necessity knows no magic formulae-they are all left to chance. If a love is to be unforgettable, fortuities must immediately start fluttering down to it like birds to Francis of Assisi’s shoulders…..
They [human lives] are composed like music. Guided by his sense of beauty, an individual transforms a fortuitous occurrence into a motif, which then assumes a permanent place in the composition of the individual’s life. ….Without realizing it, the individual composes his life according to the laws of beauty even in times of greatest distress.
It is wrong, then, to chide the novel for being fascinated by mysterious coincidences, but it is right to chide man for being blind to such coincidences in his daily life. For he thereby deprives his life of a dimension of beauty.” (Milan Kundera, from the Unbearable Lightness of Being)
Recently, I’ve had a couple of conversations about the beauty of finding meaning in coincidence. This weekend, we turned coincidence into beauty.
We took our bikes on a somewhat adventurous route to the permaculture farm where we did our initial training. It had been a while since we’d contributed our labour and wanted to say hi and see how they were getting on. Verd led the way, using his the Garmin navigator that is designed to work with his bike’s computer – very fancy technology. We came to a roundabout where we turned right instead of straight ahead on the route I’m familiar with. Thereafter, I hoped I’d not lose him, as I’d be completely lost. The early roads were quieter and fast. No potholes, and due to the damp autumn day, a pleasure as the surface was stickier. I enjoyed the ride. I’d become a bit nervous cornering on bends, not sure why, they’d come quite naturally at the start, but before we set off, I picked up some tips from an article about reading the vanishing point. It helped and I took them more smoothly and confidently as a result.
We entered the countryside, the roads narrower, bends became sharper and inclines steeper. Autumn leaves littered the wet road and stretches of farm manure presented a challenge. Toward the end of the journey the incline was so steep, we slipped the clutch in first gear and braked gently to keep the bikes under control. All that mod. 1 test training paid off and I felt somewhat pleased with myself.
I have digressed from the story.
We were greeted warmly with tea and chocolate cake. The conversation turned to a man we’d met about 4 years ago who’d established a thriving cooperative bakery in the area. He now lives in Spain, and with his wife, runs a regenerative homestead, as they call it. Called “Finca Slow“, we looked it up later and as they take on Wwoofers, it’s to be added to the map, with additional, must-visit information. To my surprise, I’ve already added it, with a note about strong visit potential. I’d not made the connection between the baker and the farm.
The following day, we went for our usual Sunday run. We always finish with about 5 minute of walking to help bring the system back to equilibrium. Toward the end of the walk we had a chat with a woman who was promoting and encouraging membership of a voluntary group dedicated to the maintenance of the local canals and waterways. Verd explained that we’d be on the road early next year, visiting permaculture projects in northern Spain.
“Will you be joining Dan at Finca Slow?”
Dan doesn’t know it yet, but a Saf & Verd are heading his way because the universe is telling us to. The beauty of coincidence.
If you’re paying attention, you’ll have noticed reference to a four kinds of community action.
- Permaculture farm teachers and volunteer hosts
- The highly successful Wwoof labour exchange
- Voluntary groups acting for specific local interests
- A cooperative business.
This time last year, I wrote about ‘Green Yorkshire’, a series of community gardens, making use of permaculture principles. Over the course of the year, I have been continually surprised by the wealth of community desire, will and action to tackle the problems created by the dominant economic system. There is a movement of cooperation that challenges the individualistic competition encouraged by capitalist means of production. Communities have discovered that they can take control over their future, food sovereignty and attain autonomy. Cooperatives have discovered a fully democratic and ethical business can work.
Below: Another West Yorkshire success story
In 2008, Christine King wrote an article about her research into alternative agricultural systems, which include organic, biodynamics, community supported agriculture, farmers markets, community gardens and, of course, permaculture. Her focus was on how the systems create more resilient and sustainable communities. She argues this is achieved through relationships building, inclusiveness, genuine participation, mobilisation of resources and knowledge sharing.
Have you ever felt that things need to change, but there’s nothing you can do about it? But by working together, change happens.
This week’s challenge:
Research community action in your area. Is there any group you feel you’d like to be a part of? If so – go join in! If not, what could you start?
And don’t forget to let us know how you get on!
Something to inspire:
Featured Image: from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5oT3DDwSh4
Reference: Christine A. King (2008) Community resilience and contemporary agri-ecological systems: reconnecting people and food, and people with people. Systems Research and Behavioural Science. Volume 25, Issue 1, Pages 111–124