Hebden Bridge features in the Resilience Handbook as a top example of a town with independent local businesses, and nearby Todmorden (also flooded) is the home of the inspirational Incredible Edible movement…they deserve your support!
Watching ‘The Island with Bear Grylls’, it appears that apathy caused by culture shock can lead seamlessly to exhaustion from lack of food calories. Part of a Resilience Plan is to keep a small store of tinned and dried supplies. I recommend keeping enough for three weeks, if you have the space.
Inspired to inspect my own collection, I found it was a bit haphazard and resolved to organise it. Counting calories and working out recipes…. I’ll have to write another book.
The stores have to be rotated as sell by dates are reached. Check through them every three months, take out anything that needs used before the next check, rearrange and restock. Never store food you don’t like. Storage conditions are often far from ideal; lofts suffer from stifling summer heat and freezing winters. You couldn’t store butter, for example.
If you ever need to rely on your stores, it’s useful to do some menu planning. Here’s one recipe..
Resilient Lentil Soup
A large pan. This recipe is easier to make in larger amounts. A tablespoon of cooking oil, some tamari (soy sauce). If you have any fresh meat or onion type vegetables to add, chop them up and lightly fry them.
If you are lucky, you may have some stock; otherwise add hot water and a couple of stock cubes. Add about four ounces [112g] of dried red lentils. Don’t pre-soak them.
How much liquid? Depends how many people you want to feed; this recipe is enough to fill four bowls. Remember the lentils will soak up some of it. If you have any root vegetables, put them in now. Grated carrot is nice.
Stir. Bring it to a low boil, then turn the heat right down and let it simmer. Mind it doesn’t stick; pans with thick bottoms are best for this work. Stir in four teaspoons of instant gravy mix and a quarter 130g tube of tomato puree. Keep an eye on the sticking as the soup thickens. You can add more water at any point.
Add any green leafy veg, shredded, just before the end. The soup is done when the lentils are soft, but can be kept simmering to wait for people for as long as you care to keep stirring it.
This soup really needs to be kept in a cold place to last over two meals, so it’s best made fresh and left overs eaten early the next day. Without the added fresh food, this recipe provides an unimpressive 550 calories* between four. If you’re completely unable to access any other ingredients, increase the lentils.
However, what of your neighbours who don’t have stores? Remember, freezers depend on electricity. Could they help you forage to add to the meal? Bacon goes very well with this recipe; it may be available after less thoroughly preserved meats have spoiled.
A basic soup provides an expandable framework for a variety of fresh food.
May Day – known by ‘rustics and dwellers on the heath’ as Beltane – has been a big celebration in Glastonbury for many years. People begin to gather around the Market Cross in late morning. Some are garlanded, or painted green and festooned with foliage. Singers and drummers arrive, the druids and bards in their regalia.
At exactly the right time, the rune carved Maypole is lifted onto the shoulders of the Men of Glastonbury, who felled and trimmed the tree it came from. They carry it up the High Street to the place where the Red and White Springs meet, on Chalice Lane. A merry throng follows them; children, elderly wizards leaning on their staffs, local politicians, gardeners, mechanics….
Everyone pauses at the Springs, to drink and mingle, to hear the next episode of the Summer story being told. Outside there is dancing in the sun, but in the dark pillared cavern of the Wellhouse there is an eerie, otherwordly atmosphere. The reflections of dozens of candles ripple in the flowing water, illuminating strange icons, masked and horned, in shadowy alcoves.
The place echoes with a wordless singing. No-one is performing. It is the separate voices of the people wandering gently around the maze of pools, each lifting up their voice in a single note as they pass through.
The occasional traffic becomes impatient, and the motley crowd moves on to Bushy Coombe. The hole for the Maypole is already waiting – dug by the Women of Glastonbury, of course. A huge circle froms around the May Queen with her consort and entourage. The chief druid steps forward and calls upon the elements, personified by costumed celebrants. The Green Men ready themselves to lift the pole as the Queen attaches the ribboned crown.
“I like your pole,” she says to the King.
“It’s a very long one,” he replies slyly.
Up goes the Maypole, wedged securely in place. A brief instruction on the dance follows but, since everyone is welcome to have a go, it is soon a round of happy chaos. One of the bards sees to the loose ends, while the others prepare to close the ceremony. They dismiss the elements with thanks; the Royal Pair retire to their willow bower to dispense honey cakes and mead.
Gradually the participants drift away, heading home in their bright clothes like windblown confetti, to the wonder of passing tourists.
The roentgen is defined as 2.58 x 10-4 coulombs of charge produced by X-rays or gamma rays per kilogram of air.
A roentgen is a lot of radiation. A dose of 500 roentgens within five hours will kill you. So a place with a reading of 100 roentgens per hour or more is very dangerous. Shortly after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, readings of up to 30,000 R/hr were recorded in some areas.
Devices are usually calibrated in tiny fractions of one roentgen. There are a thousand milliroentgens to one roentgen. The reading will often be given in mR/hr. Flying at high altitudes exposes passengers to around 25 mR/hr, due to cosmic radiation.
Rad stands for Radiation Absorbed Dose. The units used here relate to the amount of radiation absorbed by the irradiated material. This may be you. One rad indicates exposure equivalent to an energy of 100 ergs per gram. It is about the same as 1.07 Roentgen, or 1,070 mR.
Rads are useful when assessing whether acute radiation sickness is a risk. A dose of 10 rads (10,000 mrads) in less than an hour is dangerous. Treatment for ARS will be needed.
The absorbed dose, measured in rads, is adjusted to give the Roentgen Equivalent in Man. The type of radioactive material is taken into account, among other factors. This unit is used to assess the chances of getting cancer from exposure. It is used to calculate safe levels in industry and medicine.
A rem is a large amount, so readings are generally given in millirem (mrem). The general public should not be exposed to over 100 mrem per year. This is just over the natural radiation levels inside a building made of granite.
Roentgens, rads and rems are very roughly equivalent. As the adoption of international standards became important, they were replaced by other units. Some countries, particularly the USA, continue to use the old ones.
Imagine not a simple bus shelter, but a small building in every village, at every key location in towns and cities. It’s furnished with cushioned chairs, magazines and a water dispenser. The place is kept clean and maintained by a rota of local people. The solar panels on the roof provide power for lighting – including the ‘Stop’ light outside so that the bus driver knows there are passengers to pick up.
Buses come every hour at most and there is thoughtful scheduling of connections. No matter how long or awkward your journey, you never have to wait more than an hour to catch your next link. Fares are cheap. A day pass costs scarcely more than a single journey. A conductor helps you on with your luggage, and can advise you about other services.
There are lockers in the building, operated by tokens or small coins, where you can leave your shopping and go for lunch. Or lock your bicycle to the racks outside and store your wet weather gear to catch the bus for the trip to work in town.
Shoppers are transported directly into the town centres. The independent shops do well, local produce sells and is encouraged, money stays within the community. Many new jobs are created.
There is a community notice board at the hub, with news of events, official meetings, items for sale or wanted. At busy times, a local business brings a small mobile stand for newspapers and refreshments. There is a roll-out awning on one side of the building to protect a weekly produce stand, or a sale in aid of some project.
The buses are partly run on electricity, and there is a charging point close to the hub, perhaps powered by the community windmill. The surplus is available to local disabled people to charge their small electric cars.
A network of bicycle tracks links these hubs. They often use different, traffic free routes with the occasional shelter along them in case of heavy rain. Footpaths sometimes follow these routes, sometimes diverge into wilder, more scenic areas.
Where does the land come from for these hub buildings?
Here on the levels in Somerset between the sea and the high ground we’re used to seeing the water. Driving between towns, the fields are shimmering mirrors, traced with sunken hedges, populated by opportunistic swans. The main roads are edged by dark puddles, threatening to merge over the white line with every fresh downpour.
Villages hugging the tiny ridges of high ground out in the marshlands are often cut off. Farm tractors become informal delivery vans and buses. Rows of willow trees, planted so that people can see where the road was, come into their own. The river lurks just over a low bank.
The network of narrow lanes across country are under water in many places, especially at the crossroads and gateways where you could have turned around. If you come upon one flooded section, chances are there are more ahead. It’s unwise to use these lanes as a short cut.
Towns are linked by single main roads. An incident on one of these could involve you in a twenty mile diversion just to get back from the shops. If that route then becomes blocked – easy enough with the high winds and dangerous conditions – hundreds of people could become stranded for hours.
Keep at least half a tank of fuel, even for local journeys. Carry waterproofs, wellies and a drink of water in your car. Make sure your mobile phone is charged.
Shop with a list and bring in extra long life food. Try to avoid going out at all in heavy rain. Start using all those ready meals in the freezer; if your electricity goes, they will be a write off anyway.
Night time is the most dangerous. Plan to stay in, invite neighbours round, play cards or games, learn to knit. Spending all your evenings slumped in front of the TV will soon give you cabin fever!
Driving through flood water is unwise, especially if you are on your own. You can’t see how deep it is, if the road has been washed away underneath, if there are any obstructions ahead. Your electrics may get damaged.
Don’t change gears but drive slowly and steadily. If your engine cuts out, it may have got water in it. Trying to restart it might destroy it.
Even six inches of fast moving water can sweep you off your feet, and not much more can move your car. If you become trapped in a flood, call for help at once. Don’t panic and think very carefully about your escape route.
Resilience is about adaptation. Change your behaviour in response to the environment. Go out as little as possible and make every journey count. Even if you’re not directly affected by flooding, you could still be caught up in a diversion as police try to clear another area. Your presence on the road is one more factor for the emergency services to take into account, so don’t waste it.
C.R.E.W are borrowing space here to post their steward newsletter until they can sort out a new website; however this coincides with some exciting changes in their organisation…
“Hi to all our loyal and fabulous volunteers!
Wishing you all a merry festive season!
We have rather suddenly got a new email address firstname.lastname@example.org since the locally based Ergonet hosting company went bust – please direct all stewarding enquiries here for the moment and we will let you know if this changes. They wouldn’t let us send out this newsletter.
We’re seeking funding for a new website, which will come with a proper email address.
We’ve now become a Community Interest Company so that we can develop more of our resilience courses and practical skills camps. We’ll still be running stewards at One Love next summer, but not the Green Gathering. However, we are recruiting people for traffic management at the Langport Scythe Fair in June, and are looking for small event work especially in Somerset.
For next year, we’re planning low cost resilience training courses in France, the opportunity to meet up at an established camp and various hands-on craft events, among other things. We’ll send out a more detailed newsletter in the New Year.
As we are now a proper company we are building up a stock of useful items and local craftworks for sale to raise money for providing training in all aspects of resilience. For example….
Candle stove (as seen on Facebook except this one has been researched and tested for the past year)
The key features are the stainless steel core and the metal stand, which we can supply for £25 (Stand £20, core £7.50 sold separately) with full instructions. Contact the temporary gmail address above for details
Resilience Handbook a 32 page A5 booklet with the basic outlines of the Resilience Wheel concept, as seen on our now vanished website, which is £3
Both items are post free to our volunteer community!
Our Facebook friend page CREW HQ regularly posts interesting and useful ideas around resilience and sustainability, please do join us there!
It’s not easy to explain or define ‘resilience’ even though it is becoming the new buzz word. Simply described, it is the ability to cope well with change. It can be applied to materials, ecosystems or entire planets, but here we are dealing with resilience in people, in communities and in cultures.
Resilience is a concept with depth, one that exists and develops through time, like loyalty and responsibility. It implies a knowledge of what is valuable, what must continue, where to strive to repair and regenerate, what should not be discarded.
Change can come in many forms. The fossil fuel bonanza of recent centuries has enabled people to become detached from each other and pursue their individual desires without reference to local resources or communities. As a consequence, these communities and resources are no longer available to support us through the next major change as this cheap and abundant – but not renewable – fuel begins to run out.
‘Peak oil’ is the term used to describe the point where new fossil fuel discoveries no longer compensate for the steadily decreasing production of existing oil fields and coal mines. It does not mean the end of fossil fuel. There is still time to adapt to a sustainable lifestyle, a change which will be driven by the increasing cost of energy as this source becomes more scarce.
Resilience and sustainability are closely linked. As an unsustainable practice is doomed to eventual failure, it is not a resilient practice either. Sustainability tends to start at the luxury end of the market and work downwards while resilience focusses on need and works upwards.
Sustainability asks “could you involve less air miles when choosing which food to buy?”
Resilience asks less comfortable questions such as “how much food can you access within walking distance of your home?”
Think about that last question. In what circumstances would it become important? Is your local food supply enough to sustain you and the people in your area? For how long?
You fill up your car, you drive to the supermarket, you buy food. The whole process takes hours at most. Growing food takes months, requires land, needs work. Waiting until a global situation outside your control disrupts the fragile transport network upon which we depend will be too late.
Our lifestyle is far from resilient and we need to act now to correct this. We must take control of the process of change and turn it to our advantage.