I’m finding it really difficult at the moment to decide what to do ‘for the best’, so I was really pleased today to find, via a thread on WOFATI houses by Paul Wheaton : http://www.richsoil.com/wofati.jsp, a link to the Lammas ecovillage people, who live in this lovely house they’ve built,
and have made this list of small steps that we can all make : http://www.beingsomewhere.net/things.htm. At the risk of boasting, I’d say I can tick off a good 90% of these things : I make chutney, I don’t shop unnecessarily, I use public transport, I grow food, and share my knowledge : I can’t, however, get past the fact that my values are not shared by my neighbours, and this is uncomfortable for me.
I used to have a box bike : one of those Christiania ones, that I bought from a beekeeper for enough beans to buy a small car. And for a while it lived, parked on the road, attached to a lamppost, in the space where my car used to be. I got used to the sensation of being famous when riding it, as local people stared, smiling, and sometimes , yes, laughing and pointing. ( this isn’t me, by the way).
One day, a polish family moved in up the street, and all was well and good, until the day they bought an Audi. Sometimes there were so many other cars in the street, they couldn’t park it in front of their house, and when they saw my box bike, happily sitting in its spot, they got angry, and started to move it on to the pavement, and park the Audi there instead. On the pavement it was in the way of people walking by, and so when the space became free I put it gently back in its space.
One day, they wrote me this note, and put it in my bike, and they became known as ‘enemy of bike thing’ and I told my friends the story and everyone thought it was funny.
I think I laughed because the alternative was too uncomfortable to contemplate. I would have had to recognise the deeply passive aggressive and bullying undertone of this letter, and that they had ignored the fact that my phone number was on the bike, in case of theft, and chose instead to write their anonymous, sinister note .
On solstice night, I went to Hackney Tree Nursery and Forest Garden for a little green soiree, and noticed when I got back that my bike was on the pavement, and in its place the Audi, and I woke the next day to its destruction, kicked to blazes by a drunk idiot (Adrian Kopec, relative, it turned out, of Enemy of Bikething) wearing, by the end, only pants.
He paid for it, in the end, in order to avoid prosecution, and I donated the broken bike to Green Peppers Orchard Project in Camden : its in the Maiden Lane Estate, which has lots of tuscan style terracotta walkways, and will be put to good use. I hope it will be happy, and I hope that my lingering discomfort in my neighbourhood will start to disappear.