Humankind has become disconnected. Disconnected from the Earth, from its place in the unfolding of the universe. We have all been disconnected, separated from our hearts, isolated from each other, disconnected from strangers, friends and lovers, from our children, from the elders, from our communities and from ourselves, from our real natures and from the rest of life in all its beauty.
We know it, we can feel and relate to that need to connect. But it is confusing, awkward, alien to us – we have been isolated for so long that we are afraid to reach out. Still we were not born that way. Every little newborn baby opens her eyes and looks for other eyes, fixes on the faces and the smiles, and reaches out tiny fingers to connect. When we have made our world right and good for our children, then it will be right and good for us all.
In the end, eco-building, landbase, sustainable food etc. are all secondary to how we relate. If we cannot be wise parents, lovers and neighbours, we must rely on the familiar panopoly of authority and coercion to ‘protect’ what we are supposedly trying to create. The sad story of how that works out is what most of us are yearning to escape.
Nature is our most powerful teacher, and she scatters her seed far and wide. And those that fall on fertile ground will sprout, and those that reach the light will flourish, and those that root deep into the earth will grow mighty.
The vision of the Hartwood Trust is to sow tiny seeds of potential community, providing space and opportunity for re-learning together in small groups, the necessary skills, care and confidence, which if successful will in the longer-term grow into thriving villages and tribes. Hartwood’s role is to facilitate, not control, only intervening to protect the landbase if abandoned or if the terms of the charter are being abused.
Hartwood aims to establish many Hubseeds in ever widening ripples. This also creates a network for exchange, food, equipment, and allowing folk to visit from one Hubseed to another. Parallel to this a network of self-help to build resilience and share the larger tasks. These fledglings are frail and tender, and will need every helping hand they can muster.
Hubseeds are merely one approach at starting small and from the ground up. They depend on evolving true, living community to flourish beyond the initial stages.
- Each Hubseed site is on average half a hectare, forested, with any fossil vehicle access restricted to the periphery.
- Small groups of adults and children, up to about 10 households live, work, learn and play together
- With the help of volunteers, on each site Hartwood Trust constructs a beautiful off-grid, communal low-impact hub building from local materials containing:
- Hot water, bathing & washing facilities
- Composting Toilets
- Kitchen and Clothes Drying area
- Warm communal chill space
- Safe storage for food and tools etc.
- Arranged around this are resident’s dwellings, provided by themselves, which can be a variety of movable and not so types: caravans, yurts, tepees, benders, simple cob or strawbale etc. A central play area for smaller children overlooked by the surrounding dwellings, with funky home-made play equipment, shared toys etc
- Establish orchard and bush fruits, gardens and field crops on whatever scale can be managed within the landbase itself and by leasing nearby fields and orchards.
- Life, and the land that supports it are gifts of the Great Mother. In honour of the Goddess, Hartwood provides these opportunities at no cost, but does ask for a committment to healing and sharing.
Hubseeds are for those who:
- rich in time, skills, willingness to learn and co-operate.
- seek to heal – themselves, each other, all creation.
- recognise children are literally the future, and wish wholeheartedly to nourish that future, and in the process, themselves
- seek to escape the urban reservations, the dead-end jobs, the alienation and anxiety of Jobs’rUs plc.
- are semi-nomads seeking secure and supportive quarters.
- feel alone or overwhelmed by the work involved in living sustainably.
- know a real community is the only true source of happiness and lifelong security.
- feel the time has come to stand in their truth and say ‘Enough – this change is desperately needed and long overdue’.
- want to build in beauty and presence for the generations to come.
- seek to move beyond hubseeds to create the larger low-impact infrastructures: schools, forests, hospices, market gardens, inns, sanctuaries etc.
- hear Gaia calling us home before night falls.
Our fundamental ethos is to heal, to reach for wholeness. It is so necessary for community to truly be with ourselves and each other. We just have to look inside to feel the extent of the damage. Relationships, hard as they can be, are sacred ground because they offer such fertile soil for dealing with our wounds. How quickly our wounds can be triggered when we get to know each other. So instead of building resentment and creating hostile divisions, we commit to conscious relationship and try to figure out what’s really going on. This can be very scary indeed for fear of upsetting another by speaking our truth. But by agreeing to work together on this level, allowing honesty and vulnerability, it makes this journey a lot easier and supportive. Even using NVC language that communicates our feelings and needs without blame, we are still going to find it hard but it’s necessary. By practising compassionate intolerance for our damaged behaviour, committed to heal in the calm witness of friends and lovers, knowing our wounds fester in the darkness of privacy; we can reconnect and regenerate, allowing our open hearts to once again lead our souls wherever they may glow.
Actively maintain community through focused ceremony. Indigenous peoples have much to teach us here. Celebrate our blessings, rites of passage etc. also channelling grief, anger, conflict, loss so these energies do not rebound destructively upon the whole group, as many indigenous communities find essential. Living ritual is designed as needed, using culturally relevant tools and symbols, not ineffectual mimicry. Learn to create our own powerful rituals, with guidance from those still holding this ancient knowledge of human and spirit, honed through generations of successful use.
Land is life. None can exist without it. We truly flourish when rooted in sacred relationship to the eternal gift of the Mother, the living earth. We are all visitors here, and we belong to this planet, not the other way round. Hubseed landbases are held in trust for those who reside upon them, in recognition of our natural right to be somewhere on this huge, empty planet, but refutes the delusional injustice of land/life ownership with its engineered scarcity, which impoverishes so many by forcefully depriving them of the right to habitat and self-determination. Whilst we breathe, we enjoy her gifts of fruitfulness and wellbeing, and when all have that welcome place of belonging, solid and fruitful; the gift is restored, and none need take from another.
All the issues and practicalities of community living, dealing with neighbours and authorities will inevitably arise, and groups that negotiate these consciously and respectfully, will flourish – those that don’t will evolve with different members or dissolve. Not every acorn becomes an oak. Those that do take root, will then be better placed to take on more land, build more permanent dwellings, foodscape and facilities etc.
Being. Only those who truly resonate with this healing will wish to stay, for it is a deep challenge to become tribal, to become whole again. To love freely, to accept every child as yours, to be open and honest, to truly hear other’s reflections, to give everything you can, yet take only what you need. With dedication, perhaps our grandchildren will again know what it is to live blessed within Her chalice, rooted deep in this generous earth, free to explore the entire breadth of being without fear or retribution, compulsion or ridicule.
The intent of the Charter is purely to ensure the principles and pupose outlined in this Vision are kept in focus. Hubseeds are intended as tribal settlements, safe secure learning spaces for young and old to play, heal and connect. Until the great healing is completed, such blessings still need care and dedication.
Each hubseed has a high degree of autonomy as to how best achieve these aims, self-determination being a crucial part of the healing. Freedom also means responsibility, so the Charter includes commitment to practices including organic production, conscious communication, non-discrimination and respect for spirit and wildnerness.
Hartwood recommends approaches like the Circle Way, supportive listening, group ritual, NVC, co-parenting etc, but in the end, who they choose to live with, and how is always for each Hubseed to agree. Hartwood provides the opportunity to be and grow for any who seek such healing.