From the rural to the urban: my hop, skip and jump back to the big smoke

Times have been quiet on the rural project after the summer of tidying up loose ends and honouring a request to lie low. So we did. Despite the loss of our site, we continued to find other partners and other alternatives. And friends, to be honest, I got tired, I was broke and working all hours in a local pub and volunteering as a Board Director. The purpose was gone, the opportunity swept away and the horizon seemed unclear, uninteresting and so I didn’t focus on that, but on the magic of everyday in rural Somerset. Of the network of support, of the ability of fresh air to alter your emotion completely, of the laughter and care of whom became friends and family to me. 

An opportunity landed on my lap, nudged along the way by a dear friend to facilitate and consult on the world’s largest co-living project, The Collective Old Oak in West London. The application was fun, with good questions and the role seemed to befit my skills, other than the location, it was an ideal break from the scene and a good confidence boost. My application success rate was low, so I didn’t hold out until it was rapidly followed up by an interview, and then six days later I’m on a train to London, with a suitcase befuddled, and with the buzzing feeling of being alive that I knew no matter what was in store, this was a good helpful decision. 

It has been met with guilt, abandoning the cause I was rallying to support fair rural development and promote the brilliance of a more rural existence. My advisors smiled (sometimes condescending but they are forgiven!) that the rural project idea will always be there, it does not require a depletion of your capabilities and other dreams for it to flourish, indeed as I have written before, this is a project that must be supported by wellness, by abundance and by harmony. This new tract, and it is temporary, is to immerse myself in a very commercial example of community building, one driven by a property developer and management company looking to transform how we live in cities. They are seeking heart and soul, that I can bring, and what they bring is the acumen and property knowledge that will only support my future plans. 

And, who am I to suggest that my skills, knowledge and years of experience that when sought, are not to be given? Finally, a fun, fearless property developers is recognising their responsibility to community and what it gives us humans, our bond, our belonging, our care. As facts and figures pour out about metropolitan loneliness being fatal and the rejuvenating outcome of intergenerational living (we have 700 18-70yr olds in our building), this is an innovative, exciting and new wave of living as opposed to working as co-working movement provided. This is more holistic, and perhaps, more important. 

So watch this space. I am still involved in rural regeneration and hope to see some of you at the jubilant Oxford Real Farming Conference. If not, come and see me at Old Oak in Willesden Junction. 

For now, over n’out. 

And when the stream that overflows has passed,
A consciousness remains upon the silent shore of memory;
Images and precious thought that shall not be
And cannot be destroyed.
— from the Excursion by William Wordsworth
Langford Court Farmhouse, my old home. 

Langford Court Farmhouse, my old home.