• The Story Behind Bridgedale360


    I just had to leave…


    I had been walking aimlessly, as if my body just carried me along, for what seemed like forever. I still didn't know where I was heading or what was propelling me forwards. Except the reverb of that thought - I had to leave - and a name. Bridgedale360. My fist tightened around the scrap of paper on which it was written. I didn't have to open it, again, to see it. By now the name and the X that marked it on the spidery map was already etched into my mind. Instead, I looked up and wondered whether the turn in the road was starting to look - not exactly, but still - like the curve of one of the lines on the map. Like one of the spider´s legs. All roads lead to Bridgedale360? I first heard about it from a friend a few months ago and then later, overheard it in a bar. Just people talking over loud and dull pop - but I heard it for sure - and then I found this map, or it found me. I had to leave, my heart needed to believe, I had to believe.


    I picked up the pace, my heart beating out a rhythm for my legs to follow, and my right side stung. Exhaustion and fear tugged at me, and perhaps it was regret that made me look back every now and again, but this time I wasn't going to let it get the better of me. Not this time. I threw some of what was left over from my bag of dried fruits into my mouth, hoping it would hush my hunger. My feet yelled out in pain; my new boots had still not been broken in. Instead, the boots seemed bent on breaking me in. Blisters and all. My insides screamed at me in revolt.


    Suddenly I heard voices. I got cautious, a bit afraid, but my curiosity brought me closer. My ears twitched like antennae, trying to figure out where the voices came from. I stood still. There. “Bridgedale360”, I heard it. My heart rattled my ribcage. “Over there, not so far anymore.” I had to get to them. “Wait!” I think I said and cut through the row of trees, hesitantly at first, but then found myself pushing and shoving shrubs aside, until I saw them and they saw me. “Hi,” said the woman, smilingly. I gasped and smiled back and my insides kept quiet, for once.


    We were walking for days, mostly quietly. But there was a sense of unity that I had never felt before. We were all following our dreams somehow, but without really knowing what it was. Layla showed me some pictures of her family, and said that she didn’t know any longer where they were, if they were alive. Could we blame the “system crisis”? But I also felt conscience-stricken, because I saw how privileged I was. Yet, I was unhappy. But happiness does not come with abundance, I learnt it the hard way. I could not imagine myself continuing like before. I desperately needed Bridgedale360 to be more than a silly fairy tale…


    Once we started off together, everything fell into step so to speak. We moved as if we were one, people from the west, people from the east, just people...fleeing the old system and searching for that unknown place. Conversations bubbled up here and there, naturally without any haste, but then we would retreat into a silence again, as we mulled over things we had just heard, and I imagined how life was for them before in the countries where they were coming from, and how much it sounded like my own in some ways; while in others, mine was completely foreign to theirs. I remembered the things I used to enjoy, but that was in the past, I told myself, as I shook off an all too familiar sense of heaviness. Excess does that to you, somehow. But, here on this dirt road to Bridgedale360, I was just like them. Bridgedale360 was and will be the great equalizer for us all.   


    Arriving happened by surprise. We came to a stream and a little further up a girl was playing in the water, singing for herself. We came closer and when she saw us she smiled. “Ahoy there, comrades!”, she said. And she smiled and waved at us. I was surprised by the openness with which she was greeting a bunch of strangers. In the middle of nowhere! But it wasn’t in the middle of nowhere, we soon found out. Further up the stream we saw a mill and some mechanism pumping water. And then it all just opened up. Without waiting for us, the girl skipped ahead and we followed, not skipping like her, but feeling a slight hop in our own step. We exchanged glances and before we knew it, buildings and gardens and people working appeared from behind the trees. Everybody stopped to greet if only briefly, and smiled before they got back to doing what they were doing. Cows grazed past us. Even they seemed to smile.


    Our little guide, we could see, had come to a stop before the most impressive of all the buildings that we had passed. A man stood there rubbing his hands and then approached us, as if he couldn´t wait for us to get to where he stood. “Welcome,” he said, while his hands rubbed and patted our weary shoulders, ”first some rest and then I´ll show you around Bridgedale360, ok?”

    • The River and the Sea

      WATER & ITS NATURAL FLOW

      "1 billion people in the developing world don't have access to safe, drinking water.”


      “Nearly 1 out of every 5 deaths of children under 5 is due to a water-related disease.”


      “Water is Life.”



      Introduction

      Lovisa, an old lady, one of the first settlers


      When we first came here, oh my! It was many years ago now. When we first came there was no river here. Just a muddy groove in the ground. Of course we understood that once there had been a river. One day there was a massive rainfall; the day after there was plenty of water in the groove, and the water moved fast and violently. Soon the river flooded the place. We had to run with our things; some of our early settlements were destroyed by the water. Luckily no one got harmed. Of course we moved our camp, up on the hill there. But even though we solved the problem with the flooding, we still didn’t have proper access to water, especially for our gardens, since the river was dried out most of the time. So we started to inspect our surroundings. Most of the land was barren, absolutely bone dry, and most of what seemed to have been forests had been turned into huge clear-cuttings. By whom, we still don’t know. We slowly started to connect the dots. One day my husband came across a book by Viktor Shauberger, and from the first sentence I couldn’t put it down. I was mesmerized.


      He viewed water as "a living entity which he termed <the blood of mother earth>, which he perceived as being born in the womb of the forest; water had a life and death”. Clearly, I had already seen that the forests were gone and understood that it had a connection to our droughts and floodings… And I understood how ignorant I had been, how ignorant we all had been. Surely I had always loved water, the rivers and the lakes, but I didn’t really know anything about water. Reading this man, who had spent a big part of his life in the forest, witnessing first-hand how the water behaved, with such love for this subject and with such vision , gave me the goosebumps, literally! Water, as we all know, is an absolute prerequisite for life on this planet. You could say that water is life, and water is alive. Everywhere where there is healthy water, nature is thriving. We are taught in school that water can be explained by the formula “H2O”, an inanimate chemical compound. But if you drink such water, sterilised, distilled, for a longer period of time, it’s actually poisonousIt’s because water in this form will absorb anything it comes in contact with, and thus will soon leach out the minerals and trace elements in our bodies and eventually kill us. Such water, like a growing child, is not in a position to give, only to take.


      For water to be healthy, it needs to be kept cool, devoid of excessive sunlight, and it needs to be in constant motion. The function of water is to give life, and to do so it has to move slowly, so that it can be enjoyed by more life-forms before it eventually reaches the ocean. How is this happening in nature? Exactly, through the forest. From the forest, water begins its long life-giving cycle. With its natural motion, it maintains its health and purity, absorbing all the necessary trace-elements and minerals from the forest. Once appearing at the surface, as a fresh spring, it has already become the nurturing beverage for which all life is longing.


      Do you see the forest over there? Before, that was a big ugly clear-cutting. Now we have a forest, and thus we have a river all year round. Before, when the ground was bare, it became dry and warm. In that state it’s not able to absorb water, which resulted in rapid surface run-off. It didn’t recharge the groundwater; instead the water quickly ran off to the river in a horrible condition... I read that there are about a billion people today without daily access to healthy water. It’s not at all surprising when most of the world’s virgin forests have been cut down or turned into forest plantations. If we want to live, we better understand water and start planting trees for our very lives. Of course we should also take a close look at how we’re using water in our daily lives. Here in Bridgedale360 we know the value of water, and we always try to use it wisely. No flushing toilets of course! And when you take a shower here, the water won’t just disappear with the pipes into some treatment plant, no. Instead, it will continue its journey through our gardens and fruit forests. Sooner or later it will reach the ocean, but with a revitalised eco-system behind it. Then there is food. Agriculture and livestock consume an enormous amount of water. Can you imagine that you need 15,000 litres of water to produce one kilo of beef? Maybe in a country where water is scarce. That is about 60 bathtubs of water! Think about that next time you have a bath. Or I mean the next time that you’re having beef. Oh, I’m getting old!


      These days I sit a lot here, just watching the water pass by. Often I imagine its journey from raindrops to the underground caverns of the forest, making its way while animating all vegetation, trees and animals around it, until it eventually reaches the river, passing by my gaze within the fraction of a second. But every single drop has its unique journey and its unique story to tell, if you’re willing to listen.


      Learning Outcomes

      • To understand the interconnection between humans, nature, and water systems

      • To understand your own water footprint

      • To reduce your personal water consumption

      • To understand water as a whole planet system

      • To understand the biological function(s) of water

      • To have a personal experience of water

    The Compost PileThe Garden and the Farm