Sustainability and Our Future
Who: Hector Christie, Family and Friends.
Why: We are like most people, only to aware of the uncertain times we are living in and the urgent need for action, to stop the pollution of our beautiful planet.
What: Our belief is that all of us can help in the fight for what might be the survival of humanity. Grass roots awareness and local communities can be a major force for change. What we will do is facilitate and focus this energy through a series of new initiatives to play an active part in the search for sustainable solutions to the environmental changes facing us.
When: Starting now . . we have given ourselves the next few months to establish a programme of initiatives based at Tapeley Park. Key areas will be information, education, food, energy, housing and eco business enterprises. We have a growing data base of ideas, but we are and will always be open to new ones. We intend to seek out opinion and input from experts in various fields during this first stage. Collaboration with people and organisations is essential to maximise our efforts.
How: Through local and national fund raising campaign that will include a number of high profile events at Tapeley and other associated venues together with the permanent environmental exhibit and visitor centre at Tapeley.
For further information:-Tel 01271-860897
Web site www.tapeleypark.com
Hector Christie: A Statement of Intent
Most people would agree that the world we live in is in trouble. With this current form of capitalism collapsing around all of our eyes and ears and the police preparing for the rioting middle classes combined with the terrifying prospect of Peak Oil and rapid climate change; in the spiritual and practical sense, wholesome “Beacons” will be essential to help guide mankind through this transitory period.
The current system, based on greed, selfishness and hatred for those different from ourselves is now completely unsustainable no matter how many trillions world leaders plough into it. I’m certainly not big-headed enough to claim that Tapeley will be one of these Beacons. However with our history and the point to which our “community” has evolved to now, does, I believe, give us a fantastic opportunity to do some real good.
Tapeley is in a unique position. The spectacularly beautiful house with views over the estuary and out to Lundy with extensive gardens, is part of a large Estate. Thanks to an excellent Management team over the years, the land and houses have been well maintained. I also have no problems of stepping aside if someone better comes along, as I did for 4 years in the 1990’s. I see myself as a caretaker for now and have no sense of “ownership”. Every penny goes back into the place, so there is never much “loose cash” - I get paid a modest wage out of which I pay Community Tax, bills etc, and so long as I have a grand or two in my bank account, will never want for more. I feel very blessed and lucky on this front. This combined with the fact we don’t have an Opera House, spectacular Domes or large Theme Parks, means, we are, in a way, a blank canvas. The foundation is now solid, the will strong, and with the blessing of all my Family, the Trustees and, it seems the local Council, we can paint whatever picture we want, within reason of course.
The Family motto at Tapeley is “Fortuna Audaces Juvat” Fortune Favours the Brave. I thought all families, who live in such places, had mottos something like this until I saw a programme on a large famous house in Derbyshire, whose motto was “Safety with Caution” - yawn, I thought to myself. Historically my Family has always been on the cutting edge of whatever they’ve been involved with: One ancestor, Archibald Clevland, was one of 3 Officers to survive the Charge of the Light Brigade, after which he wrote the most vivid, moving letter of the experience I’ve come across, before getting killed 10 days later at the bloody Battle of Inkerman, aged just 21.
My Grandfather, John Christie, built the Opera House at Glyndbourne, against all the advice of professional solicitors, lawyers and managers, for his beloved wife Audrey Mildmay. Likewise, my Dad knocked it down and built the new Opera House. This was a huge risk - life is about taking risks at times I believe if you want to achieve anything, because at the time he’d barely raised half a million pounds of the £34 million needed. Of most intrigue to me is the selfless dedication demonstrated by my Great Grandmother, Lady Rosamund Christie in her making Tapeley what it is today.
Lady Rosamund kicked out her husband, Augustus Christie, after 3 months of marriage, because he used to kick the furniture with his hobnailed boots. She then set about tirelessly transforming the grounds and house which she described as “dreary and ugly in appearance”. It was a white stucco Queen Anne building originally. She had the Italian Gardens dug out, exposed the red brick and added the porticos and spent her life “bargain hunting” at auctions which resulted in Tapeley housing the second largest collection of William Morris furniture in the country.
Morris is a socialist icon. In 1883, he joined the Social Democrats Federation, and in 1884 he organised the breakaway Socialist League. Morris seemed to have an inner battle going on with his strong socialist beliefs and the fact that he was a leader in the Arts and Craft movement of the time. He and my Great Grandmother became great friends, hence the collection, and they used to have clandestine meetings in the dinning room (where I am writing this now), discussing Revolution - how they could steer the power away from increasingly powerful Corporations, back to the ordinary people.
I learnt of this soon after arriving back home after yelling “One Solution - Revolution” for 3 days on the tear-gas strewn streets of Genoa during the G8 Summit in 2001. I ended up there incensed at Tony Blair’s Government’s oppressive, mindless handling of Foot and Mouth when for months I felt at war with the system, blockading Tapeley against the slaughter of my animals, organising demonstrations in the local town and village and storming the MAFF Offices in Exeter and London, as well as locking arms with others on farms against the riot police, army and slaughter men. I was fined £2,000, arrested countless times, culminating in a short vacation in Exeter prison (they could have practically locked me up and thrown away the key if they wanted to).
The experience changed my life. It showed me the incredible power we all have as individuals ( a power the Government does not want us to realise). Since then I became heavily involved in stopping a Tesco being built in our local town, a cog in the wheel that has successfully helped keep GM crops out of this country so far, and was the first person to infiltrate a Party Conference and heckled the Prime Minister during his biggest speech of the year - not that it made any difference (it was against the war in Iraq). I did the same 8 months later to Gordon Brown at the G8 in Edinburgh, when he was arrogantly pontificating hollow rhetoric about making Poverty history in the old Scottish Parliament building.
“Another World is Possible” was the theme of my comrade’s banners during the anti-capitalist demos. For me, now, it is “Another Way”. The Christmas before last I (somewhat accidentally) ended up on a Rule 6 Panel, standing against 3 Barristers employed by our Council and the CPRE, to cross examine (and vice versa) the proposal for 22 2megawatt Wind Turbines between Braunton and Ilfracombe. The opposition sent me paperwork equivalent to 4 volumes of the Lord of the Rings, of which I read not one word. One “wind” joke aside, I thoroughly enjoyed and relished the intellectual experience of the 6 week Courtroom battle, especially the broadside cross questioning from the opposition Barristers. Against all the odds we won permission for all 22 turbines - the largest wind farm south of the Scottish border.
Just as these 22 windmills will provide enough clean free energy for more than three quarters of the homes in North Devon (the Campaign Against Wind Turbines’ own figures), my brother (a.k.a. “Dick Turbine)” has recently won Planning Permission (with a little help from David Attenborough) for a 600kw turbine at Glyndebourne. This will provide an estimated 72% of Glyndebourne’s energy needs. He too has stuck his neck above the parapet, where he met with a tirade of hostile abuse from some locals and the usual suspects-CPRE, the Rambler’s Association and all manner of beardy wierdy conservation groups. We both say that “until something better comes along, this is the best form of technology we currently have for reducing carbon emissions,” which is where we at Tapeley hope to come in . . . “Another World is possible”.
These past 4 years and more, I have spent a lot of time with a man who claims to have the technology to “Save the Planet” (just like a load of others” I hear those reading this thinking. Whether this guy has anything or not (we’re still hanging on to .05% of “hope”), this period has certainly not been a waste of time. A guy (Ian Bell) who has been a friend for 20 years became (via me for my sins) involved, and through him an electrical engineer (Brian King) who worked for British Aerospace amongst other such firms, joined us. Yes, it’s been completely crazy, ridiculous at times (an energy I’ve always been drawn to) and often frustrating journey. We three have, it feels, bonded as brothers, and as well as having a crash course in “Alternative Physics”, it has opened up all our minds to the weird world of an “Inventor’s mentality”.
Also, over the past few years, I have been looking into doing a sustainable, affordable housing project on Estate land. We have paid someone to do a comprehensive appraisal of all the possibilities - there are loads of wonderful, old, ivy ridden outbuildings, and sheds all over the place for starters. The Council are now, at last, under pressure from Central Government to meet “targets”, fully behind us. But I’ve told them I don’t want to borrow any money from the banks . . .This means that we’ll need to raise funds by, for example, selling plots for residential build - which we would like to insist are built as sustainably as possible. At Tapeley we currently have examples of a Straw Bale House and Turf Roof house. Neither house has any foundations; both have an extraordinary feeling of wholesomeness, calm and joy - something I don’t feel when in a house made from concrete foundations, steel girders, bricks and mortar.
It is the wish of the “Team”, with the blessing it seems of all the parties involved from the Family (my youngest brother expressed an interest to be more involved) to the Council, to get Tapeley up as a Centre for - Sustainability in all its guises. For some reason, I have an aversion to the work “Eco”.
Rather than setting up blockades of Sainsbury’s, infiltrating Food Standards AGM’s and the rest, I feel that the most effective form of “activism” open to me at present is to demonstrate a positive way of surviving and living through the tumultuous years ahead, during which I pray that there is an evolutionary shift from a world dominated by greed, selfishness, lies and deception to one based on selflessness, forgiveness and truly loving our neighbour as ourselves, independent of culture, creed and skin colour.(having said this, if “they” do decide to allow the growing of GM crops in this country, I have vowed to become a “serial slasher” - spending a lifetime in and out of prison if necessary).
One example of what I mean by the above is I recently met up with a guy who claims that he invented a way of growing food via a process he calls “Aeroponics”, whereby crops are grown in a plastic cloche and take nutrients via their leaves from a “fog” rich in dung. He says that yields are 7 to 10 times greater than normal; no chemicals are required and it is cheap to do. He said that he’d been working with NASA on it in the 1980’s and wanted to set up examples in the UK - maybe at the Eden Project having spoken with Tim Smit. My little brain told me “what better way of keeping GM out than to show our Government a much easier, cheaper way of growing food - so why would we need GM?”
Currently at Tapeley we have solar water heating panels on the outbuildings, solar panels on the Straw Bale house and toilet block, a “Heat Sink” greenhouse, compost toilets, chemical free walled kitchen garden, an allotment area and a Permaculture garden; and soon (I hope) a wood burning boiler and wood burning cooker. We have also hosted a “Seed Swap” day in February these past few years. An expansive seed bank is a vital part in what we want to achieve. With a hard working, clean living group of people now living at Tapeley, and all focussed on the same goal, plus a close knit team of friends/business folk bursting with energy, ideas and enthusiasm, and heaps of contacts in every department, we are ready to “Paint the Picture”. I have at last grown up a bit and will no longer be a pushover. If anyone steps out of line or tries to disrupt the plan, then they will be instantly out - time is running out fast to get such Beacons up and running.
The ideas being championed at present include the following: A space for inventors to come and demonstrate their wares and get help in developing their products (if any good of course), patented and into the market place. The emphasis will be on clean, “free” energy (where possible) and food production, i.e. the areas we have been working on over the years. Currently, for example, we are working with two inventors. One is developing a water emersion which looks like it could be considerably more efficient than anything else currently out there. The other is working on a “heat reservoir” to instantly, cheaply easily take away heat produced in a circuit, such as hospital equipment, computers and speakers.
Also, I am a farmer. I love farming, and am never happier than when feeding and looking after my crazy small herd of Highland cattle - no matter how many times they charge me . . . .As well as the farmland, mainly permanent pasture, we also have 300 acres of ageing woodland around the house. Replanting, which is desperately needed and coppicing will also be an integral part of Tapeley’s future.
Naturally we now want to move fast and get Tapeley as “Off Grid” as possible. We do not want a large wind turbine which does everything; but lots of alternative things such as Biodigesters, Heat Exchangers and so on. Education will play a key role. We will be putting in Planning Permission for a Visitor’s Centre which will give information of the latest and most economically efficient forms of clean energy and details of the best companies for the benefit of the general public. Likewise, outbuilding space will be utilised for exhibitions, workshops and functions. There is a large barn and always the option of using the Music room and Dining room in the main house where necessary.
As this will require some substantial investment, and again we have between us all involved so far, some good contacts and great ideas in this field. Environmental Art for the garden is one of the many avenues we plan to explore.
A space where we can all meet, collaborate, network inventors, do publicity, promotions, set up websites, link with Universities and other research places with a similar vision (much like the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales), is essential. A practical vibrant space from where we can propel all the good ideas forwards is needed. I believe the granary, the original “Spiritual Hub” of Tapeley, is ideal for this. It is located next to the toilets, plant sales area, and pay hut and shop which is the first port of call for all visitors, plus it has it’s own kitchen. Tapeley also has a charity - Save Our World, (or SoW). This year, for example, 100% of proceeds from our two Festivals will go to this charity. The main focus of the charity this year is to push for much more healthy food for ourselves and our children. The remit of the charity also embraces sustainable, affordable homes in the UK, and education. It is intended for SoW to play an integral role in this project and that those who commit their time and energy receive a reasonable payment reflecting their efforts. As I said, we are in a fantastic position with a solid foundation and a blank canvas.
30th March 2009
SAVE OUR WORLD TRUST
Registered number: 1110241
EXTRACT OF POWERS
A) THE RELIEF OF POVERTY BY SUCH MEANS AS THE DIRECTORS MAY CONSIDER APPROPRIATE IN SUCH PARTS OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OR THE WORLD AS THE DIRECTORS MAY FROM TIME TO TIME THINK FIT.
B) THE PROTECTION AND PRESERVATION OF GOOD HEALTH BY SUCH MEANS AS THE DIRECTORS MAY CONSIDER APPROPRIATE IN SUCH PARTS OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OR THE WORLD AS THE DIRECTORS MAY FROM TIME TO TIME THINK FIT.
C) THE ADVANCEMENT OF EDUCATION FOR THE PUBLIC BENEFIT IN PARTICULAR BUT NOT EXCLUSIVELY IN CONNECTION WITH THE ISSUES OF ETHICS, POLITICS, SCIENCE, AND PUBLIC POLICY RELATING TO FOOD PRODUCTION AND THE PUBLISHING AND DISSEMINATION OF USEFUL RESULTS OF RESEARCH INTO SUCH ISSUES IN SUCH PARTS OF THE UNITED KINDGOM OR THE WORLD AS THE TRUSTEES MAY FROM TIME TO TIME THINK FIT.
D) THE PROMOTION FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE PUBLIC OF THE CONSERVATION, PROTECTION AND IMPROVEMENT OF THE PHYSICAL AND NATURAL ENVIRONMENT IN PARTICULAR, BUT NOT EXCLUSIVELY IN RELATION TO THE THREAT OF GLOBAL WARMING IN SUCH PARTS OF THE WORLD AND BY SUCH CHARITABLE MEANS AS THE DIRECTORS MAY FROM TIME TO TIME THINK FIT; INCLUDING THE EDUCATION OF PUBLIC RELATING TO CLIMATE CHANGE AND PROMOTING WAYS TO REDUCE GREENHOUSE GASSES AND WIDELY DISSEMINATING THE RESULTS OF USEFUL RESEARCH