As I sit here at the early dawn of 2019, the birds are singing their morning chorus as they always do, and once again they raise my spirit and hope for a beautiful new day, new year and what a year this will be!
So what will 2019 bring for me...health, happiness and prosperity. Not in any financial way, but in a community sense, a growing, breathing, nurturing and feeding community sense that benefits all.
My reflections on 2018 will be brief, I spent much of it recovering from my treatment for Leismaniasis, slowly getting back to being fitter and healthier, something that will continue this year with a weekend n the mountains of Snowdonia already in the diary for February.
For those who know me well, I have four p"s that describe my drive, where I put my energy and most of my actions; people, places, play and passion. They often overlap in many things I do...
People are important to all of us; we are not solitary creatures like a cave dwelling hermit, returning to society briefly to share a personal revelation like a comet returning to our sun after a 4000 year journey, it shines for a while as the brightest object in the sky, but is not my universe, my society, my community. My focus in the coming year will be on developing myself in being a good citizen and a role model for other people I work with and engage in their development.
2018 also saw me helping set up a new charity, devoted to connecting communities and young people through global science and comunity projects that will have a positive impact for all invovled. Our pilot programme takes a group of disadvantaged young adults from Derbyshire to remote communities in Namibia in October, doing some work in supporting an initiative to develop sustainable acacia forests, share first responder skills for people in remote communities and take on adventures that will provide an insight into the livelihoods of bushmen and their society. I will also be playing a more active role as a Director of the Grand Pavilion in Matlock Bath, sharing my knowledge and connections in supporting the huge number of volunteers who share an aspiration to see this iconic building become a centre for community art, entertainment and heritage.
Campfire Convention has also played a big part of my life over the last few years, meeting and sharing with lovely people from within this community all manner of things that help guide us to become the social network of choice for our age. To take the lead on the founding principles, the desired outcomes, the interactions and relationships that we want in our community as part of a modern society.
I am passionate about conserving this planet and all its inhabitants. We need to wake up to the fact that an industrial, market driven society that has no regard for our environment or community in which we live is on a path of destruction for the benefit of a few very wealthy people in an unhealthy society that does little for the majority. Over the last few years I have been living off grid (well, almost!) on a narrow boat in a lovely community of like minded people from all walks of life, who each bring colour to the tapestry of our community and I love it.
Many years ago, whilst at Aston University, I set up the conservation group. We would clean up the local canals, help plant trees and wildflower meadows at the Ackers Trust amongst many other conservation projects in the wider area. It set me on a path of knowledge and understanding of how our human population interacts and lives within its environment.
This path has taken me to the Tsaatan reindeer herders of Mongolia, the Cocama tribe of the Amazon, a macaw breeding programme the Carribean, the first nation people of the US amongst many other places that seem to have a better, though threatened, relationship with their environment. I set up a paper recycling programme in Sheffield in the early 80's to raise awareness to the good people of this city the effect that paper production and the things we were consuming were having at local and global level, as the tip of an awareness iceberg. We now need the same action for plastics, energy production, water and more to realise how big this recycling iceberg really is. They are the conversations we should be having as a community, not just for our generation but for the next.
I am looking forward to hearing and seeing a cosmic shift in the politics of the planet during 2019, one that is focused on people and our environment.
Health, happiness and prosperity to everyone on Campfire Convention.