In New Zealand, in the small town of Whangarei (“Farn-ga-ray”) fabric rescuers are taking on the waste headed for landfill from second-hand stores.
The local Salvation Army Op-shop* receives roughly 3 wool bales of donated clothing a day. Even with a good crew of volunteers it’s impossible for them to process and sell everything, so the staff are selective with what will go to the shop floor.
Any item that needs to be ironed, washed or mended generally does not make the grade and is assigned to landfill. This means that good quality fabric is being dumped because it is too time consuming to work with. This store alone currently sends a skip to the landfill every few days – most of it textiles. This one store spends tens of thousands a year in dumping fees!
Intercept to the rescue! ‘Intercept’ volunteers literally intercept the skips heading to landfill and rescues fabric and clothing that is good quality, but needs attention.
With a small band of sorters, and seamstresses these items are reworked into spectacular garments or made into ‘t-shirt yarn’ for XL-crochet which will be sold within the Salvation Army store. Other clothing with life still in them are gifted out into the community, .
Cooperation between the store and Intercept is going well. The store has given a work room within the building and space and shelving on the dock for rescues and sorting to happen.
“Anything that I can do to help reduce our spending on landfill is good for everyone,” says store manager, Nick Garforth.
“We want your fingers!” says Jenny Hill, at the first official Intercept meeting. 17 volunteers are there. Jenny is a founder of Intercept and is referring to the ability of knowing quality fabric by touch. This is a skill I personally have, passed on through the mothers of my maternal line (my great-great-grandmother worked the cotton mills in the Manchester area at the end of the 18th Century). Until now, I didn’t appreciate this knowledge is not common. I’m proud to be a sorter for Intercept!
Watch: video sharing work of Intercept
In the weekend I joined a fellow Intercepter at the local “Children’s Day”. We set up a stall to give intercepted clothes away. We took 18 banana boxes and by pack up time, three hours later, all but one were empty. All of these clothes would have gone to landfill, but instead have been recirculated in the community.
We definitely encourage you to think about starting something similar in your town, to slow fast fashion and become more regenerative in our clothing choices. Also, it’s really smart to check in with charity shops what they accept (generally clothing that can go straight on to a hanger to sell), as sending them items which contribute to landfill costs is doing the opposite of helping people.
Focusing on climate-related disaster mitigation and adaptation, our Feb 2020 Community Call featured Kyle Leach from Sierra Streams Institute (old mining shafts clean-ups and watershed restoration) and Sister Pat Bergen from Sisters of St. Joseph’s with the amazing Mirabeau Water Garden Project in New Orleans.
KYLE LEACH – Sierra Streams Institute
Kyle talked through how Sierra Streams works with abandoned mines with a risk-based clean up plan, that aims to neutralise and nourish the soil back to health. The worst waste is usually dug up and placed in hazardous waste landfills. The rest of the contamination is minimised by ‘activating and consolidating’, followed by being buried onsite. Stabilising and restoring the mine tailings is important so that poisoned sediment eroding into waterways is minimised. Sierra Streams then restore the surface area, to make it erosion-proof, and revegetate it.
Through this work Kyle has been expanding to restoring whole watersheds, where all climate disaster mitigation factors are considered (wildfires, landslides, floods). The low bio-matter status of the mining land means that restoring the soil health is essential to improving wildlife habitats. Bio-solids, a by-product of wastewater treatment plants, are added which increase carbon uptake, improves soil stability and reduces the bioavailability of the metals. Sierra Streams have also started to use ‘biochar’, a by-product of wood-powered plants. Biochar is a higher carbon sink and binds metals like mercury into the matrix of the biochar. The soil is inoculated with soil microbes to increase the biological activity, and the soil is hydro-seeded to stabilise it initially.
If you live in the California area, Sierra Streams welcomes volunteers. It is a nonprofit that uses Citizen/Community-based science approaches. There are volunteer days, like clean-ups, invasive plant removal and plantings. They highly value their volunteer team and keep people informed with what their data is contributing to, so they know the work they are doing is making a real difference. To find out more: https://sierrastreamsinstitute.org
SISTER PAT BERGEN – Mirabeau Water Garden Project
Our second guest was Sister Pat Bergen on our Bloom Community Call, and she talked about the Sisters of St. Joseph’s amazing project in New Orleans. Sister Pat is part of a sisterhood of nuns in the USA who had a convent in New Orleans which was badly damaged in the floods after Hurricane Katrina. They needed to decide what to do with the land. They didn’t want to build houses on the 25 acre piece of land because in the next big flood people would lose their houses… so they held the land, and prayed for years. What could the land do that would serve the New Orleans community in the same way the Sisters had served for so many years?
An architect named David Wagner eventually approached them, with an idea. To turn the land into a giant wetland, a ‘Water Garden’ he called it, which would play a major role in stopping the surrounding area from flooding. This was an answer to prayer!
How it works…
The New Orleans levies are only designed to take 2 inches of rain an hour. Any more than that overwhelms the system, the levies fail, and the city gets flooded. So the intention of the Mirabeau Water Garden design is to take the local flood waters into the garden and slow the water down, so the flood waters don’t overwhelm the city system. The water is filtered and released back into the city system when it can handle it.
The Water Garden will keep a surrounding 3780 acres from flooding completely. It will ‘minimise’ the flooding for 6000 acres from flooding, and 9000 acres will experience a ‘diminishment’ of flooding.
This project has not broken ground yet (tenders are out for construction now), but already it has won a Federal government competition for Water Resiliency in Urban Areas. In 2016 Sister Pat was able to present a check of $143 million to the City of New Orleans, and $93 million to the State of Louisiana, for works in those areas. The $10 million needed to create the Mirabeau Water Garden (without the education centre) is additionally allocated from a grant by FEMA.
A good discussion followed, with amazing offers of help being matched. Kyle will work with Nick from EVO on grants to do watershed restoration on their property. Christopher from Burners Without Borders offered to connect Sister Pat with the BWB volunteer base in New Orleans. Bloom offered to use our networks to help share the designs and story of the Mirabeau Water Garden, as it is now known that if NYC and Houston had these water gardens, much less damage would have been endured from hurricane events. These designs could be built in cities across the world if the message is spread far and wide.
The call ended with Sister Pat answering our key question…
If you want to geek out and see the full details of the call –
by Hannah Mitchell – Bloom Network Community Lead, (Miss Hannigan)
Following Bloom Network’s Pollination event, I headed to Burning Man and made sure I saw the Terran Collective* (hosts of one of the Pollination Labs) speaking as a panel at the camp of Burners Without Borders**.
I was blown away by the poise and clarity with which all the members of the Terran Collective spoke. Their assuredness intertwined with vulnerability was a powerful thing to witness.
After their panel, I found Clare and asked how it was that she was able to speak with such coherence. Clare immediately responded that it was from the deep knowing that she was held, supported and trusted within her collective. This gave her the strength to do more than what she would be able to individually.
While we have become adept at embracing self-healing and restoring our individual resonance, building a close-knit team and working together in a healthy way remains a sticking spot for many of us. So diving deeper with Clare, we discussed further about what Terran Collective had discovered in working together to build collective resonance as a small working group.
Clare’s Tips on Building Collective Resonance
Being committed to your own healing and self-work is crucial. It’s difficult to work with people who are unwilling to look into themselves and work through trauma and other issues that arise.
Knowing Each Other
Meet in person – eye to eye, heart to heart. It is very important to meet face to face and to look each other in the eye. This means your energies will integrate better and the trust and collective resonance will grow. (Maori phrase: “kanohi ki te kanohi”).
Get to know each other’s stories, triggers and traumas. As scary as that sounds, it’s important to hear and share your life experiences with each other and how that has affected you.
Understand each other’s stories and hold each other. More than just knowing, it’s important for all members to understand how people’s life experiences have affected them. Then, when you see someone from your collective reacting to something, you understand the traumatised place it’s coming from. This makes it easier and more productive to counter-balance and lean into the situation to help
Commit to “having each other’s back”. Everyone needs a few people they can truly rely on. To be able to fall back on when times are tough, and who will stand up for you in your time of need.
Create shared goals and work towards them together. It’s hard to achieve anything without a clear idea about where you are going and what your goals are.
Work out how to be accountable to each other. Each group will have their own way of keeping each other accountable to the work you are committing too, both in the goals you have set and in the personal work you commit to. Being accountable also extends to the commitment you make to your group and being there for each other.
All of these aspects work together to be able to form a healthy, well-functioning and supportive group. This then leads to the ability to be able to speak coherently and confidently like I witnessed at Burning Man. When you are held and supported by a trusted group the possibilities of what you can do together are profound. Truly, most change happens when we have groups functioning like this.
Photo Above: Terran Collective including Tibet Sprague, Kelly Erhart, Neha Sharma, Clare Politano and Aaron Brodeur at Burners Without Borders theme camp, Burning Man 2019.
*Terran Collective are a Bloom Bay Area Chapter, and hosted one of the Pollination Labs – focussing around trust, and building a measurement tool that could be used to track it. Follow this link to the Terran Collective website: http://www.terran.io/
**Burners Without Borders are also partnering with Bloom Network to deliver trainings to Burners and Bloomers in 2020.
It was the second day of hearing the motors of chainsaws chugging that Susan McMillan realised she had to make a decision…
“Do I intervene and stop the illegal logging happening next door, or do I let it slide?”
With a brave voice, she shouted loudly through treeline, “I’m calling the police!” Fortunately, the chain-sawing stopped without confrontation, and never returned.
This incident inspired Susan to use her “Protect Our Waters” skills to share with the local community the importance of trees to the local watershed. Many trees had been cut down in Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. The region now experiences the drier weather patterns that come with the impact of deforestation.
Susan teamed up with Janine Jordan from Green Wave Enterprises (and a Bloom Chapter Lead), and together they wrote an open letter to the neighbours about the crucial role trees play in the ecosystem. This was surprisingly well received, creating a conversation point for the neighbourhood. Local realtors read the letter and showed their interest as well.
Seeing an opportunity, Susan and Janine organised a meeting specifically for realtors so they could share more information about why trees add value to property. This deeper understanding within the property industry will go a long way to protect the local environment. The shared letter on Facebook received over 500 hits (which is massive for this small rural community). Enough money has been gathered together to create 3 large road sign posters to bring more attention to the habitat and tree removal. The open letter has also galvanised local environmental enthusiasts who are now starting to come together, creating a website and Facebook community to stay in touch.
So much positive change happening, stemming from one brave decision to speak up and make a difference! This is a great example of the impact we can have in our neighbourhood, local community and ecosystem if we take steps to educate and engage people around ecological restoration and the goals of regenerative culture.
If you want to find out about our Local Bloom Chapters and how they work, head here.
Part of the Researching Regenerative Practises Blog Series
Restoring natural water retention back into landscapes is an essential task to be undertaken. A scary 1/3 of Earth’s land has been desertified at the hands of humans, causing widespread hunger and thirst. This will only get worse if we don’t take practical action.
Water Retention programs restore the land to a natural form which brings back seasonal rains. By enabling rainwater to be stored on site, these retention zones strategically hold the water during the dry seasons. The water can then by used to to re-establish forests and restore the water ecosystems.
Many regenerative practitioners are designing water retention systems. There are only a few companies that work through the full process of creating decentralised water retention landscapes from start to finish. Elemental Ecosystems is one such organisation and they are seeing amazing results with their work.
“We can’t address climate change without addressing the water cycle disturbance” says Founder Zach Weiss. “Everywhere it’s the same story. The precipitation levels are much higher when it comes, and it comes less often. Large dams and reservoirs are very energy intensive. Smaller decentralised water retention systems are much more efficient. Zach concludes, “It’s not the climate that’s the problem, it’s actually human management” of the land that we need to change.
Elemental Ecosystems are seeing results beyond the land they are specifically working on. The Portugal Tomorrow Village didn’t have enough water when the project started. Now they have a surplus. In a project in Borneo, there has been a 10% increase in rainfall, not just for the local site, but also locations downwind from the site.
Zack’s next goals are to work on upscaling, using a teaching
model that will enable students to learn the process, and then franchise Elemental
Ecosystems around the world. It is his hope that water retention projects will
take off and regenerate water ecosystems on a worldwide scale.