I have a week in which to complete my review of my actions thus far so that when I move into my new home, which will double as my practice, it is with a greater sense of clarity on the actions I wish to undertake.
A success that I wish to continue with is the planting and distribution of spekboom. I was introduced to this extraordinary plant by Calvin Dias and Victoria Ing seven years ago.
A shrub that grows to 3m in height, it sequesters eight times more carbon than any other plant. It is the ideal grow-your-own-oxygen and clear-your-own-carbon-emissions plant for Southern Africa. I immediately persuaded Andrew Hankey, from the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens, to part with some of his precious pilot project plants to plant at schools. I distributed these through Yebo Gogo at Wits in 2011 and through the Catholic Schools network.
From these I later obtained cuttings which I propagated at home and distributed through my forest planting projects in Olievenhoutbosch, Tembisa, Soweto, Westbury and Zakariya Park.
From these parent plants I have continued to propagate spekboom and now distribute them mostly through my forest retreats.
The tiny plants I donated to Sian, who started the permaculture garden at 27 Boxes in Melville, have flourished and are now interspersed with other water efficient plants in the renovated garden. I think they are the smaller plants yet I might be wrong for my sense of linear time is weak.
The forest planting has not been as successful as I had hoped. The most important lesson from this has been a shift from undertaking the planting myself to providing the motivation, educational resources, suppliers and networks enabling those who truly want to provide the diverse benefits of forests to their communities to do so themselves. In this way people are more inclined to look after the trees when they have invested something of themselves in it.
The garden in my former home has been transformed into a forest which I am pleased with. If I were to do it again I would do it differently. Yet embracing gentleness as my father guided me to I no longer experience the anxiety I did when things did not turn out quite as I had envisioned. The principles of permaculture which guide my design for sustainability have supported this new approach to life. The most significant in this regard is:
In permaculture there are no mistakes!
So too in life!
Still, I like to grow, to expand my knowledge and to apply new skills. I am thrilled that I have a new project in my new home for there is neither soil nor tree in sight!
I think this means that the Universe is nudging me along, “Your ancestors planted for you. Get off your laptop and go plant in places that have neither soil nor tree in sight.” Or perhaps it is, “Get out of the city. Go support those who need support in planting where there is soil asking for trees, and food perhaps.”
Perhaps it is both. I shall see how this unfolds that I might judge the best course of action for me in my context. And then I shall act on it. This, I think, is what my Jewish ancestors expect of me: to keep moving, to keep acting on what I intuit it is I must do to help repair the world.
And my father cautions that I do it with gentleness towards myself.