Exploring Simple Living in Community

I always fantasized about what it would be like to follow in the footsteps of Thoreau’s experience in his tiny cabin. And so when the mother of my daughter and I decided to separate I found myself with only a few accommodation options.

We moved as a family to a remote part of southern Tuscany 5 years ago. Together with my 1 year old daughter it was an adventure of a lifetime. Ultimately moving to a place where we hardly knew anyone, didn’t really speak much of the language and chose a rustic area at the base of dormant volcano meant that I could no longer hide behind always being “busy” which I had a tendency to do when I lived in London. And as all things in nature change over time, the romantic love in our relationship changed too. Acknowledging this and taking ownership of where I didn’t show up for my ex-partner has been a rocky road – one that I was reticent to delve into. And the two things I took the most solace from over the last year since separating have been spending time alone in nature and living in a community.

Having close friends that will drop everything to come and meet and listen means the world to me. Additionally having the support of a local men’s group I help set up 4 years ago has also been a life-saver in terms of a place I can speak truthfully and be heard, not offered advice – just heard and mirrored back to.

I feel very fortunate to have friends of all ages and walks of life – carpenters, artists, yoga teachers, coaches, architects a small-holders – living here in the wider community I now call home. Together we have embarked on communal food growing projects, run ecstatic dance events, have group meditation circles with pot-luck lunches, set up an alternative “Forest School” inspired school, take day long hikes up secret emerald rivers and spend time on each others’ properties helping out when help is needed.

In May of 2019 I remembered a tiny cottage I had seen on a walk once a few years back, and now knew the owners. I approached them to enquire about a long term rental and they obliged asking a months rent for the equivalent of the cost of a slap up meal for two in a nice London restaurant.

There was electricity and a sink with cold running water in the corner of the cabin, but that was it. The loo was a compost toilet down a path, the cold shower open to the elements behind a bamboo screen.

Co-parenting my 5 year old daughter and sharing the sleeping platform above the kitchen / living space was truly an adventure to behold. To give her warm baths I would heat up two large pasta pots on the gas rings and fill her bath up outside. I will never forget the sight of her returning from school, playing in the bathwater, being able to splash around raucously, while the golden light transformed the valley into a painting.

Living in such a simple space for 4 months meant much more time spent outside. It meant becoming much more attuned to the moon’s cycles. What it brought me was a much more refined quality of noticing. A sense of deep gratitude for the simplicity in the important things in life and having the time to observe that we are actually part of the landscape too.

By Adrian Kowal

The Sheer Thrills of Exploration

Walking up hidden away rivers, with my feet in the water, having to often use my hands to pull me up boulders, to discover crystal clear, emerald natural swimming pools is one of my favourite things to do in life.

Whether it’s solo, with a friend, my daughter, or even a few families together, the feeling of adventure and discovery are second to none. To me it’s the ultimate immersive experience, where one is regularly surrounded by dense flora, rock, trees, water and air – a heady combination of the elements.

 

Where I live, there is hardly a trace of human existence along the rivers and streams so I sometimes have that Indiana Jones feeling about me. In fact Daniel, my friend in the video, once drew me a treasure map where he had once stumbled upon a small riverlet in an ancient Etruscan (pre-Roman) civilization area where he found many 2,500+ year old ancient tombs and small staircases above the river. Why watch some muggins on the telly explore on your behalf where the real thing is much more accessible than many may think?

If an multi-day river hiking adventure with a 24 hour nature quest along the river sounds appealing to you, get in touch with Adrian (adrian@wayofnature.co.uk).

This Moment in Time (Podcast)

In this episode Dan Burgess is in conversation with Andres Roberts, founder of Bio Leadership Project, co-founder of Way Of Nature UK. Andres supports new forms of human progress by working with the principles of living systems and the wisdom of nature. They talk about Andres’ journey with his work, and how his practice has developed with Bio Leadership, the challenges of working and leading within dominant systems, different ways of knowing, working with the intelligence of the wider natural world through nature quests, wilderness solos, and the two riff and jam on what its like to be alive right now at this moment in time, a time of climate emergency and ecological breakdown, the search for meaning and a sense of belonging and in particular what that means to lead and organise in this context and with this new knowledge. Enquiry based practice and asking courageous questions as a way to evolve. Andres shares stories, insight and learnings from his most current projects including his work with Patagonia Europe.

 

Show notes:

The Story Behind Way of Nature (Podcast)

A conversation with Jamie Pike.

What do our leaders need to learn in order to make our future more balanced? How can we get the leaders of industry to fall in love with the life supporting systems that we all rely upon? James Pike is in conversation with Andres Roberts, founder of The Way of Nature UK and The Bio-Leadership Project. Hear Andres’ personal stories and inspirations for how to live into a way of being that can lead us towards a brighter future. Inspiration for troubled times indeed!

Listen here:

https://www.jamiepike.org/thenewnavigators/2019/5/14/andres-roberts-bio-leadership