September 8, 2008


Save the Spike

Sarah Bear – fighting
A building where George Orwell once stayed when he wrote “Down and Out in Paris and London” now houses London’s most inventive and dynamic community arts project. But the inhabitants and the building, known locally as The Spike, are under threat from Southwark Council, which wants to kick out the long standing residents, demolish the building and then sit on their fat backsides and tell everyone what a great job they are doing.

The Spike Surplus Scheme, to give it its full name, is a large, beautiful and diverse community space that raises awareness for low-impact living, celebrates the fascinating history of the place, and makes dreams come true. They are planning a festival this weekend as they need to raise $400,000 to save the historic building which is about to be listed by English Heritage in a last ditch effort to prevent the eviction.

The locals love the community because “ Its pretty free in there – you can turn up and whatever you dream you can do” said Sarah Bear, 28, sho has been living there just over two years as a caretaker. She is also a freelance researcher and musician


“I just want a better world for everyone, more opportunity for synchronicity magic to happen, more spaces for us to come together,” said Sarah.

The residents have a stunning community garden with free permaculture courses for all; a rehearsal and professional recording space for local bands and artists; a collaborative music production studio; a dojo used for yoga, martial arts and the like, with a weekly drop-in wellbeing clinic offering complementary therapies; a video production space; ‘camera obscura’; a cinema and much more. It’s all run on a donations basis and open to all. Come check the space… reckon you’ll love it.

They have big plans for the future development of The Spike, but they need help.

Southwark Council have decided with no notice that they want to sell the space, without event visiting to check what Spike contributes to Peckham.

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Bad side of bio-fuel

The buzz around bio-fuels is all about maintaining our current lifestyles with a quick fix. But at who’s expense?

Nair: bio-fuel is theft
Like most something-for-nothing schemes, the arguments for bio-fuel turn out to be flawed on close examination.

Indian Academic K. P. Prabhakaran Nair says “local people will find it harder to satisfy their food and fuel needs” as a result of large-scale bio-crop exploitation. The rural poor will suffer most.

India is a rapidly developing economy whose energy needs are growing as fast as its population. Responding to the global thrust for bio-fuels, the Indian government has promised a bagful of initiatives to encourage large-scale planting of bio-fuel crops, particularly Jatropha.

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Garden Work, Seeds, Farmer Ants

Today I worked in the garden, I have been getting the sweetest tasting cherry tomatoes from my garden, they almost don’t have a chance to get into the cabin, I eat them almost as fast as I pick them. I believe I took care of the problem I was having with bloggom end rot (EDIT that should be blossom end rot, not bloggom end rot, a Freudian slip?), the tomatoes that already had the start of blossom end rot of course couldn’t be saved (I tried to cut the rot off, but the rot seemed to go quite a way through). The tomatoes that were still green, are now turning red with no sign of blossom end rot.
I went out and gathered seeds from the plants that I have let go to seed. I got a quart baggie full of raddish seed pods, one full of sweet peas and another half full of spinach seeds. I left the peas and the raddishes inside the pods, they are completely dry, later on this winter, when the weather prohibits me from going outside, I’ll liberate the seeds from their pods. For now, they will be just fine. As I picked these seeds, I removed the spent plants, for now I just tossed them into the corner, procrastination gets me, I know… I’ll work on them later… While I was seeding the spinach, I noticed one leaf that looked different from the other leaves, then it moved, it had legs, it was a praying mantis, about 3 inches long. I took it and tossed it along with the spent plant into the corner. I was saving it’s life, I was going to do some spraying later, and the spray was going to contain soap, I wanted to kill out the grasshoppers, not the mantis. While I was seeding the plants, I noticed a multitude of black ants drawling on my okra plants, not on anything else, upon closer inspection, it seems that the ants were doing a bit of farming themselves, they were “keeping” aphids. On several of the larger okra leaves, the ones with the most ants crawling on them were incrusted with aphids on the bottom. The ants actually bring the aphids to the plants, protect them, they harvest the liquid that the aphids exude, it’s a waste product from sucking the juices from the plants, the exuded liquid is sweet and the ants love it. My okra hadn’t started to really suffer, yet, if I hadn’t caught it, they might have gotten weak, diseased and would have given me fewer okra pods. Eventually the ants would have moved the aphids to other plants. 
I made up a mixture for a spray, I didn’t really measure anything, I poured about a capfull of mouthwash (generic Listerine type, plain-not flavored), a handful of Epsoms salt (magneseum), about 2 handfulls of
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