“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Atwood.
The place where villagers used to do their laundry – now a perfect little plunge pool for local children on hot summer days….. My recent visit to Saorge got me thinking about what sustainability really means. Only a one hour forty minute flight from the madness of London Gatwick Aiport, and then a drive or train ride up into the mountains from Nice, it feels like a very different world.
It’s a little like leaving a room where the tv is on full blast, the washing machine and dryer are buzzing away, phones are ringing, and then all of a sudden it’s all turned off! Instead, natural sounds…the river, birds, trees and so on……..
Cars are parked at both ends of the Village – allowing for quiet, fume free living in the Village.
In 1946, the year I was born, there were approximately 2 billion people on the planet. Today there are approx 7 1/2 billion…with estimated figures for 2050 of between 8.3 and 10.9 billion!
Given that a large percentage of the human population has moved to urban centres, is it any wonder that it all feels so crowded and out of control. Then there are the cars, buses, trains, planes and so on……
Anyway, we can talk about the statistics until we are blue in the face, the question is – what can we do as individuals and communities to make real change.
Hanging out the laundry in Saorge….For many hanging out the laundry is something that was done in the dark ages…and in fact there are places where it is banned! I suppose it spoils the view……
I realise we need appropriate weather, but why not do this when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. There’s nothing quite so lovely as sleeping on air dried sheets.
Abandoned olive terraces grow throughout the valley. Here are two examples of how this community works together for the good of all.
Each year, some of the locals pick and press olives from abandoned olive terraces. After keeping the pulp to make tapenade and other products, they distribute the oil free to many of the older residents.
Each day the children from the primary school walk to the old people’s home and join them for lunch and the singing of songs. A simple formula that can benefit and change lives.
The yellow building standing on its own is the Primary School…..
We need to wake up – There are 65 million displaced persons roaming our planet today.
Of course there are many complex reasons why this is happening, one of which is climate change. Some parts of the world are devoid of water and no longer able to grow life sustaining crops.
Looking down onto the Le Monistaire – a place that hosts writers and other creatives – a place that has been self sustainable for several centuries. . Saorge, like all French communities has The Mairie – which is responsible for all civic amenities. This includes sewage treatment, water supply and the general upkeep of the Village.
The water comes from a source high in the mountains above Saorge and after treatment is piped into individual properties. The Mairie charges each household a fixed amount per annum for these services.
Having grown up in the English countryside during a time when we knew how to conserve water, grow our own fruit and vegetables, hang the laundry out, not build on flood plains, take natural exercise in the normal course of a day – it seems to me that we have forgotten so much.
Creative thinking needs to come into play…
I will be giving a workshop in London next Wednesday for SOFAP – Fulham/Hammersmith Art Society, where we will explore the shapes and rhythms of Saorge and the surrounding landscape. I will share these images at a later date.
Meanwhile, I leave you with colour and magical hummingbirds – a glimpse into the ‘unseen world’ – watercolour/gouache