Regenerative Livestyle Blog

Sharing my regeneration journey, enjoying living in harmony with nature


1080, diquat and co.

100% Pure NZ is systematically sprinkled with persistent organic pollutants, but don’t worry! All the studies prove it’s OK.

Actually, independent source Pesticides Action Network PAN declares it’s not OK, these products are on the Highly Hazardous Pesticides list (HHP list).

What’s the problem?

They do not disappear despite some biodegradability, they enter the food chain and they accumulate. From highly acute toxicity to long term toxic effects (carcinogenic and mutations), endocrine disruption, environmental degradation (ozone layer, effects on animals…), to hazard to ecosystems services (bees), HHP effects are varied. Cause and effects are not always obvious, often long term. Only highly acute toxicity is tested in most cases.

DiquToxicat dibromide is on HHP list. It can be fatal if inhaled ; Also toxic by ingestion and  dermal contact, including neurologic effect. It is chemically close to agent orange and was used in Vietnam too. It makes rats infertile. It is often found in cow milk.  It is unlikely carcinogenic but is known as a potential ground water contaminator. Diquat is used every year in Lake Wanaka in an attempt to stop lagarosiphon spread. It doesn’t stop it nor prevent it to grow again. In fact, lagarosiphon is not toxic, it is a habitat for native species, it absorbs nitrogen. It does annoy boaties, getting stuck in propellers. It does disrupt hydro dams (turbine shutdown and lost energy production), obliging hydro companies to invest in expensive measures against the plant.

ToxicGlyphosate (RoundUp)  is listed on the HHP list. It is not as biodegradable as Monsanto says. Not only it is quite persistent in water and sediments but also its degradation creates other toxic substances. It is known to have long term health effect on kidneys and reproduction organs. Its massive use also leads many weeds to become resistant and it is present in many surface and ground water tables. Besides, glyphosate is often associated with other chemicals for the weedkiller to be more efficient so you get the perfect cocktail for unknown consequences. Actually not so unknown as many many studies show severe effects but Monsanto’s powerful marketing machine is still winning.

ToxicPindone (not on the HHP list), however on PAN database, it is listed as highly toxic, causing nosebleeds, bleeding gums, bloody urine, extensive bruising in the absence of injury (ecchymoses), also fatigue, shortness of breath (dyspnea) on exertion. It may cause fluid in lungs (pulmonary edema). It is fatal or highly toxic for fish. Toxicity data is missing (no study done/recorded) as to cancer, water pollution potential and the bees. It is used to kill rabbits, with some success, although rabbits invariably spread again, possibly getting resistant.

Toxic1080 (Sodium fluoroacetate), is on the bad guys list as Extremely hazardous (Class 1a) according to World Health Organisation and fatal if inhaled. May also be absorbed through the skin. Leads to convulsions, laboured breathing, unconsciousness and death if untreated. DOC says 1080 is OK for NZ because it targets mammals and there is no native mammals in this country. 1080 is not used in any other country in the world because it would destroy mammals. Well, sorry but I AM a mammal and my children too. More and more research show that it accumulates and that it has long term carcinogenic and reproductive effects… In the local papers today, DOC kindly reassures us that fish ingesting 1080 are safe to eat because you need to “eat several tonnes of affected fish” to get a fatal dose. For me, “not fatal” does not equal “safe”. What about everything in between?

2014 is a mast year

In 2011, the Parliamentary Commission for the Environment publishes a report that supports the use of 1080 as the best solution available to help protect our native birds. Interestingly, independent scientists demonstrate just the opposite on their site A lot of information is on the Ban 1080 website.

Solidly based on the PCE report, DOC launches the “Battle for our birds”, with a record dropping of 1080, when we know that 1080 kills about as many birds as it protects them.

Which to believe?

I am not a scientist but I see clearly there is not enough consensus on that matter among scientists to keep using these HHP without questioning.

I know about Rachel Carson landmark book, Silent Spring, which warned, in 1962, that the use of pesticides would lead to wildlife destruction and a dramatic increase in cancer cases.

I have read Our Stolen Future, by Theo Colborne, which demonstrated in 1996, that even tiny doses of pesticides can alter human development and reproduction, as they are endocrine disruptors.

So I wonder… and I worry…

What do the pro 1080 win? Lots of money $$$ from selling and applying their product. Pro-1080-diquat-and-so-on justify themselves by any mean to keep doing business as usual.

What do the anti 1080 win? Nothing! They must have good precautionary reasons to spend so much time and energy fighting this!


I am not saying I have solutions. I just want people stop saying these substances are solutions. They are not. They are dangerous and don’t solve problems, hardly mitigate them. Saying they are solutions prevents everyone from searching for better ways -non toxic please.

I think we must stop thinking in terms of pests that we need to eradicate. Maybe consider them as resources? Lagarosiphon is excellent composted. Possums of course have made the fortune of many trappers. Some rabbit terrines are served in the best restaurants in some countries…

Maybe widen the issue to the whole system? We don’t have a “pests” problem in an otherwise perfect world. I know this may shock but it strikes me that National Parks are protected (from destruction by humans) and DOC is sole responsible for their maintenance yet forests are becoming silent. I know of some valleys that are privately owned and well looked after by their owners. No possums, no stoats, lots of birds, lush native bush. Maybe the system needs revisiting…

What if humans became again guardians of the land, respectful of nature, not consumers and controllers of nature? This does require quite a mind-shift and a lot of open-minded discussions. I don’t have solutions. But if we don’t look for them, we won’t find any and we’ll keep doing the same things with the same results.

What you can do

  • Take the warning signs seriously! It IS dangerous!
  • Join groups who set traps
  • Take photos of abuse and send them to the media, OSH, local authorities and beyond
  • Love your weeds instead of poisoning them
  • Generally avoid using chemicals, they all add up!
  • Prompt debates…

PS- I could make a very similar article about the pesticides used in agriculture, less visible but more widespread…

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Making bread

The bread in shops around is generally not healthy, is expensive and doesn’t even taste good. Some are more healthy but we can’t afford them. Coming from France where we could easily purchase a 2kg loaf of crispy organic bread for a worthwhile price, we moaned, nearly mourned! But not for long…

We started soon kneading our bread with organic flour and Surebake yeast and were happy with the results, although quite crumbly and quickly dry. We got organised and managed to buy whole 20Kg sacks of organic flour, one of white, one of wholemeal and this would last us a while. Most rewarding. We were aware and not proud of the “chemical” yeast issue but sourdough just sounded so mythical.

It is only thanks to a visitor in the know that we started our sourdough two years ago. Now our bread is just organic flour and water and so much tastier, also with a better keep. And soooo easy to make! Roll up your sleeves and just do it too. Here is how: 

To start the sourdough

In summer (min 15 degres is better to start it), mix 2 spoons of flour, a pinch of sugar and 4 spoons of water in a bowl, stir well. Cover with a plate. Leave on a shelve 2 days. Then have a look, it should start bubbling a bit. Stir, add one spoon of flour, stir. Leave another half day, add one spoon of flour, stir. This is called “feeding the sourdough”. Your mother sourdough is ready for the first lot of bread.

To keep the sourdough

From then on, just when you’ve finished kneading the bread and before putting it in the dishes, withdraw an egg size sample of dough and put in a cup, with a lid just to cover not to close, back on the shelve. Until the day before you need to make bread again. It keeps well 3-4 days. For longer periods, keep it in the fridge.

Prepare the sourdough

To wake up the sourdough for the next bread, cover the ball of dough with water. After a while when it is soaked, mix and add flour, one spoon at a time and stir, every now and then (from 3 hours to 9 hours) to feed the sourdough. It will start bubbling again. The more often you feed it, the fastest it is ready, the more virulently it will rise.

Making the bread

In a large dish (we use our pressure cooker, very stable), we put 4 cups of white and 4 cups of wholemeal flour. Make a well, put the now rather liquid and bubbly sourdough, add some water and stir with a strong fork. How much water varies with the ambiant humidity and temperature, so just have a jar of water ready to add some if needed, as well as a cup of flour in case it became too liquid. Stir with the fork until all the flour and water have merged. Then start kneading with your hands and enjoy it. It is sometimes sticky, sometimes instant. In all cases, it eventually becomes right.

Bread raising

Put aside a ball of dough for next bread, then take half the dough out of the pan, add salt and kneads it further on the floured bench. Then shapes it and put in a slightly oiled dish. Then do the same with the second half.  Then place both dishes under a towel for 12 hours (over night or during the day).

Following recipes, I used to knead again after one raising and leave to raise further. Honestly, it’s more time and the difference in result is not significant so I abandoned that double kneading practice.


Cooking the bread

Cooking temperature and time will vary with the size and shape of your dishes and your oven. Trials and adjustments. Then stick to it. Keep a bowl of water at the bottom of the oven. In our case, it is an handle-less old stainless-steel pan. Basically the oven needs to be super hot when putting the bread in. 240 degrees in our case. For 10mn. Then lower the thermostat to 160 degrees and leave for 30 mn. Then pull one bread out, knock it with an utensil, it sounds a bit hollow when it is cooked. If not cooked, place in again for 5 mn.

Keep the bread

When cooked, unmold onto a board and cover with a towel while it cools down, then wrap in the towel and store in the cupboard. It’s better to wait for the bread to be cooled to enjoy if or it breaks easily. When still hot, slice not thinner than 5mm but the next day you can make 3 mm slices for the lunch sandwiches.100_0107.JPG

Stored in the towel in the cupboard, it stays perfect for 4 to 5 days but rarely reaches this age as it is eaten before. To keep longer, I put the bread in the towel inside a plastic bad in the same cupboard. It can then stay “fresh” for a week.

Well, this is not the usual precise recipe. It is a recipe-ish. I hope it lifts the myth of the difficulty and cumbersomeness of bread making. No rocket science, no problem.  We just enjoy making and eating our bread.

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Surprise Tomatillos

A beautiful plant with interesting capsulesLast year in my garden, shortly after I had planted my tomatoes, I found new strong-going regularly-arranged never-seen-before sorts of weeds. I started pulling them off then decided to keep a few, by curiosity.

They became stronger and larger and I started asking around what they could be. When they became covered with small yellow flowers, resembling potatoes’ flowers, we knew they were solanacees. Nightshade family I was told, very toxic plant. Then a friend recognized them as physalis and the next day, they displayed some capsules confirming this diagnostic. Toxic yes, but when the fruits are ripe, they are edible.

Where did they possibly come from?! I sort of remembered that two years ago, I had bought a punnet of tomatillos from the Mediterranean Market, and I had thrown the last three of them in the compost. I had added some compost when planting the tomatoes… That’s where they came from. 

And they grew and grew and produced more than 3 kilos of fruits each, making it a quite productive plant, worthwhile considering in our climate. The fruits are ripe when they fill in the capsule. I looked for recipes and made some salsa verde, which did not look too good but had an interesting taste with Mexican food.

The recipe we preferred was with prawns and coconut milk, to accompany rice.

I am so pleased I did not kill them. I kept some seeds and grow them again this year. This time willingly, therefore I plan for some space around them!


The detailed recipe is here but basically, we brown one onion and a few garlic cloves in oil, then add sliced washed tomatillos then frozen shrimps. Cook for 15 mn-ish. When the mixture is drying in the pan, add coconut milk. Season with pepper, lemon and coriander. Add feta pieces. Serve with rice. Delicious!


Global Change for Beginners

Puzzle ClipArtSo you sort of sense there are some issues looming, but it is quite confusing, seems still controversial and certainly helpless… Here are some basic elements and inspiration to help you assemble the puzzle.

The links and organizations mentioned in this article (in maroon) have credentials, are reputable and are important sources for further information. I recommend you read the whole article first and then click and explore the links.

Hard facts

There is proven human induced climate change. In its latest Climate Change Report dated 2007, the IPCC states that temperatures had already increased by an  average of 1 degree in the 20th century, and will continue to increase by 2 to 4 degrees by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed. Climate changes also include an increase of extremes, draughts, winds, floods, colds and heatwaves. Some places will become colder. The next report is in progress but intermediary announcements have underlined that the projections and scenarios are lower than what is actually happening. People who cast doubt about it have either an interest in keeping business-as-usual or are looking for excuses, being unable to consider change yet.

Human activity and settlement is creating irreversible damage on world biodiversity, jeopardizing its capacity to regenerate itself.  It is not only sad that many species disappear but it is also hugely harmful to human society as biodiversity provides us with a wide range of services, free and taken for granted. Here is the summary of the very official Convention of the Global Diversity.

Resources are running out, whether it is water, oil, or minerals… Clean air too! Some, like phosphorus, are not directly essential for us but their rarity would have dire consequences… The nitrogen cycle change is another example of the human activities tremendous impact.

There is a global economic and social crisis -just watch TV!- and despite rebounds, we all know that doing more of the same thing is not going to improve anything.

Well, the reality is that our earth has boundaries and we have been in ecological overshoot for many decades.

I have a “Drivers of Change” set with 175 cards each detailing different aspects of energy, waste, climate change, water, demographics, urbanisation, poverty. One group game consists in picking up one card each and meeting every other participant and discussing the links between the two seemingly totally distinct subjects. An amazing eye-opening experience.

Everything is connected. For example, the practices of modern agriculture, combined with the world demographics, creates a catch-22 to feed the everyone when productive land is being depleted or constructed for human expansion, resulting in rocketing food prices, worsening the social crisis and the state of the environment… “Whatever befalls the Earth – befalls the sons of the Earth. (…) Whatever Man does to the web, he does to himself.” Says Chief Seattle in his famous 1854 speech.

Ostrich clipartFlight or Fight!

Too much!! Panic!!!

You may prefer to ignore or escape in consumerism, in drugs, in hopes that we will go on Mars…

Or read on…

There are solutions! Lots! And we need lots of people to make them happen. It is a team work. Everyone’s little action at his level contributes.

30 years ago, we were wacky… or pioneers. And yes some of us are extremist! Many people like me worked to identify, analyse and communicate the issues; many people have been experimenting and finding solutions. It may be new to you, but it not new and many solutions have been tested and approved.

Today, we are innovators and there are many early adopters. Be part of them!

It has been demonstrated that when 13.5% of the population has embraced a change, then the majority engages. No need to spend energy to convince people, they will come on board. Just Change yourself, what you can, when you can. That is your part of the Global Change.

Change is not easy and everyone is not venturesome. Around us, many people act to make change easier, for example creating cycle lanes to enable people to cycle to work safely. So while more and more people embark on the boat- bike!- , more and more change is possible in a virtuous spiral. Listen to Elizabeth Sahtouris inspirational talk.

Change for what?

Here I introduce the sustainability principles as guidelines for change, from the Natural Step (explained in 2mn, or for kids)

  1. Is a choice/ an action taking always more resources from the earth crust?
  2. Is it creating things that the earth cannot digest and therefore persist and accumulate in our ecosystems or atmosphere?
  3. Is it somehow destroying part of the biosphere, undermining its regenerative capacity?
  4. Is it preventing other people from having a decent life?

If an answer is Yes, then try and change it. If all answers are No, then your choice / action is sustainable. Simple, no?

Solutions levels

Intergovernmental and governments decide on rules and laws

I do not expect much from them as they are very lobbied.  However we can influence these:

  • with online activism following Avaaz, Choice and many others ;
  • write submissions and get involved politically;
  • or for the bravest, stand as a candidate for the Local Government elections

Business and industry profit more when saving the planet

Business is driven by profit, which derives from the difference between the selling price and the cost to produce a good or service. Therefore,  for many MANY years, business has tried to get the cheapest resources, get more work done by workers paid minimally and externalizing costs.  Today resources are increasingly expensive. Delocalisation for cheap labor reaches its limits, polluting is getting to visible, laws and consumers are more demanding…

Paul Hawken demonstrated way back in 1994, that business and industry can be restorative of the environment. Because it is more profitable, more and more businesses, like InterfaceFlor,  are redesigning the way of producing. Sustainable and socially responsible business is the way of the future.

Community level can be very effective

Together, we achieve lotsBe part of or create associations that promote energy descent, nature restoration, social justice… The Transition Town movement is getting momentum and induces a lot of change. In New Zealand, Transition Town Aotearoa networks and support communities, responding to the twin challenges of climate change and peak oil.

Also locally, write submissions and get involved politically. It may be worthwhile participating in Community Associations to bend them in a sustainable direction.

There are many global-change-friendly communities in the world, even some large ones like Whistler in Canada, Curitiba in Brazil or Nelson in New Zealand.

Individual level is the most reachable

How you spend your money is a powerful tool with which you can really make a difference. For example, you choose to support an industrial farmer using pesticides, polluting water, harming his animals etc when buying his produce at the supermarket OR you support the living of a friend at the local farmers market. Do you see how strong your choice is?

Changing requires a mind shift, a change in yourself. It requires you realize that you are a human,  part of the society, itself part of the environment. Economy is not an aim nor the ruler of all life, but the mere tool for societies to function.

From  to 

It requires that you realize that you ARE either contributing to the problem or you ARE part of the solution, from “what can I do anyway-I’d better keep going as usual” to “Wherever I am on this track, it is worthwhile for me, for the planet and for future generations, and I am going there”. And just start.

Think on how you eat (best is organic, local, vegetarian food), how you move (prefer bike or collective transports), how you heat your dwelling (reduce your energy consumption). And sieve them through the 4 questions above. Here is a Sustainability at home comprehensive  Checklist, courtesy of The Natural Step Canada.

We are all at a different stage on the path, and depending on circumstances one may have to go backwards. No judgement. It is not an excuse not to “keep aiming at” sustainability.

working together4

I hope that by now, terror and oblivion has been replaced hope and determination. The only problem left is “Are we early enough?” but better late than never...

Lots of actions and initiatives have already contributed to mitigate the issues, giving nature and beings more time to adapt to change. For example, the ozone layer depletion has started to reduce since 2009, thanks to the 1987 Montreal protocol.

Remember, you are not alone, we need many hands to go faster and also”the more the merrier“!

Here are some resources to give you information in specific domains and a lot of inspiration. Have a wonderful voyage!

More main resources

For positive news: Happyzine in NZ ; Guardian Green Living blog (Yes UK but quite worldwide) ; Tree Hugger with humour ; Celsias NZ, solid source but not always fun…

For news about New Zealand nature : Forest and Bird

Check out the resources from the Centre for Alternative Technologies in Wales and Terre Vivante in French

Here are Sustainable Initiatives and projects in NZ, mainly by the Centre for Sustainable Practice students.

Here is the American Earth Policy Institute Action plan B.

Lots of cool stuff on RSA Animate and TED talks


Agriculture, gardening, food and health

Organic New Zealand and Permaculture New Zealand

Information about Pesticides, in New Zealand and internationally, also What’s wrong with Pesticides?

Energy, transport, building

Rocky Mountain Institute, US based but lots of positive information about energy, transport and housing. See Amory Lovins inspiring TED talk here.

Renewable Energy World blog

The Future From black oil to a green future


Living Economy website in New Zealand

New Economics Foundation, Economics as if people and the planet mattered

Here a New Zealand online guide to eco-accommodation, organic cafes, food supplies, Māori cultural tourism, and environmental tourism activities.

Sustainable business network in New Zealand

Here are many more interesting links . It is also worthwhile “Liking” some organisations of your interest on Facebook and exploring their “Likes”. Focus on the good news and practical how-to aspects.

Please leave a comment if you find inaccuracies or to suggest too-good-to-miss links.

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Slow travel


Good clean fair travel

How to enjoy travels without much money and without impacting too much on the planet? We have Slow Food. Here is a Slow Travel concept.

No! I am not going to rant about these motor boats queuing at the petrol station in the morning and wasting it doing loops in the water; Nor am I going to name and shame people who fly for a 5-day discounted trip to a paradise international resort built on native land destroying coral… No.

Travelling and holidaying can use resources parsimoniously and be a meaningful experience, not just another consumption trap. One of the keys is to travel less far and less often but longer, and in combinaison with another purpose. Could be studying, volunteering,  working or running competitions…

Simple things

I enjoy no-travel-holidays, just staying home to make up for when I go to France. Enjoy my friends. Enjoy good books and rest. These walks I did not have time to walk yet. Catch up on sewing and repairs. Try new things, start the sourdough, patisseries, decorating the staircase, sun salutations, family games… I enjoy simple things.

20121231_235222Not far

We love to drive to the sea with our tent and enjoy the beach and bonfire. We treasure tramping in the wilderness on a DOC track or walk – see also ideas on the interactive website NZ walks Info. Check the weather forecast on Metservice AND Metvuw.


When we do travel overseas, we have our tents or we  stay at locals accomodations, it’s cheaper and you know your money is going to feed the kids. It also provides a more genuine experience.

Ethical and environmental tourism

If you want to plan your travels, then think about the environmental and ethical impact of your choice. There are many travel agencies that really support communities and enhance biodiversity. Find some on Ethical Traveler, Tourism Concern,  or check if they are members of Leave No Trace, the International Ecotourism Society or other…

Carbon Off-setting

There are benefits in carbon off-setting and many companies will take your money to hopefully -check carefully- finance some carbon reduction programs. I personally can’t afford it and prefer keeping my daily carbon footprint as small as I can and avoid yet another monetarization of life.


A great cheap and meaningful way to go places and create friendships is to work in exchange of board in New Zealand and abroad:

When I will be wiser and free.. ?!

I may become peacekeeper for a few months through some of these organisations, Volunteer Service Abroad   (NZ) , Global Exchange Peace Brigades ,  Service International para La Paz,
Nonviolent Peaceforce or
Friend Peace Team (quaker)
 And Arbinger Institute will provide for most background issues.

If I was younger and free!…

I would go around the world cruise hiking  and stay at friendly people thanks to couch surfing . Read the advice from an experienced bunch on Matador Network.

Welcoming travelers is a way to travel –  proxy travel !

This year we met two awesome couples, traveling with not much at all, with a very low impact on the environment and maximum contact with the people:
  • Olivier and Nadege, traveling by bike, as light as possible, boarding on sailing boats, using a kite to drive long patches and going around the world in 7 years- planned…The nec plus ultra of Slow travel! Follow them on


  • Adeline and Mark, arriving by chance at our place one evening, travelling in tandem .
What an overseas experience! To the four of them, we were very pleased to offer a home-so-far-away-from-home and wish you all the best.
Even with a family, Slow travel is possible. Raphaël, Sophie, Hugo et Adèle travelled one year (took a sabbatical leave), wwoofing, and meeting hundreds of people for an unforgettable experience… Nice to have met you all!

And the librarian in me can’t help mentioning books…

Travel books will take you place, for free and nearly zero-carbon:

  • a good fiction set in Africa, India, in a Pacific Island or wherever will probably transport you in another time/space. Sea Wall, by Marguerite Duras and White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga immediately spring to my mind.
  • A recount or a logbook that tell of a journey may make you feel that you actually walk next to the author. The first that I think of is Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, by Alfred Lansing and I was very pleased not to be with them! Another well written travel book with a mission is Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson.
  • an adventure story will take you there and beyond, depending how realist it wants to be. I walked and rode and walked for weeks reading The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien!

How do YOU make your travel good, clean and fair?

Please contribute to the slow travel concept by telling your experience in a comment. Thank you!

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A few inspiring links to grow food right here. Come and discuss about it at Green Drinks,  Thursday 9th August, 6pm/7pm at The Creek, 2 Dunmore St, Wanaka.

Volunteers Transform Yard Into an Edible Garden :

Why protect urban green spaces:

Street Orchards for Community Security:

Gardening in the planting strip in Seattle:

The Telegraph Plant the streets UK :

And that’s a place where they DO it seriously!  And their website

In New Zealand: Transition Town website links to community  orchard

Do you know of other good links about community food growing? Please leave a comment so that I can add them to this list.

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Building resilience beyond bullying

I attended a very interesting meeting about bullying in Wanaka Primary School earlier this month. Not that I am worried that my kids are bullies or bullied. But just to know how I can, as a parent, prevent perhaps and help if it occurs. And it happens to be a much wider subject than it seems… These are my notes.

Build resilience in kids

Resilience is the capacity to cope with adversity. If children are strong inside, they will not remain affected. And they need to learn how to solve problems. As parents we can help by supporting our children’s self-esteem in general and by talking about the problems when they arise. We can help them say what they experienced, how they felt. Help them name these and going through solutions with them, so that they learn from what happened. And parents must address both bullies and bullied situations. We must tell kids to not go along bullies, to realise and take a stand.

Peer conflict versus bullying

The former is meanness, often one-off situations, with kids trying and not getting it right but soon realise and stop. It is quite normal even if it can still be very affecting. Kids may still need help to solve it, on both side of the conflict. When a kid says no one wants to play with him/her, is s/he bullied or is s/he the bully? We need to talk to find out and help find solutions.

Bullying is repeated, exerts an imbalance in power and the offender purposely wants to hurt and therefore will not stop. It can often escalate to violence or sex offense. For the victim, it MUST STOP. But so that it happens, victims MUST seek help, but unfortunately only 20% do. Specially when they get older. We, parents must keep the conversation open, not react. Do not threaten to confiscate the phone or computer access if they complain, or obviously they will not tell anymore. Instead, address the issue or seek help for it. For all cyberbullying issues, visit Netsafe.

Social relationships are acquired skills

We must tell our values, establish them, discuss them. And keep adapting with the children’s age. For example: No hurting –> Respect –> Welcoming…

At primary school, the first month is dedicated to establish rules and creating a safe classroom which is a requirement for good learning disposition. Children learn to talk and listen to each other, and they are taught the WITS strategy:

  • Walk away,
  • Ignore,
  • Tell someone,
  • Say what you want instead.

How to talk about an incident

Ask what happened? And listen to the several sides of the story. A good question is “If it has been filmed, what would I see on the video?”

School uses a restorative approach ( Or in New Zealand context, much more detailed ) that invites bullies to take responsibility and get help for it.

Through a framework of questions, bullies awareness is raised, they are invited to imagine how they could have behaved successfully, then they think about how to heal or repair, and what tools they need to manage this. This strategy is very successful and has a low recidivism rate.

It was emphasized that bullying issues are not only a school problem but a whole society problem and must be tackled by schools together with the parents and the whole community too.

Helping teenagers

The last intervenant of the evening was amazing in compassion and courage. She was dealing with repeating offenders who had therefore been thrown out of all educative systems and were on the jail doors. She did not mention it explicitly but I understood that these kids are mostly bullies who had not been helped on time, and at their age, it is called crime. Their life is a mess, a mixture of mental health, home stress, abuse, a vicious circle, often for a long time. They do not have the skills and do not cope so they use inappropriate strategies in life. They end up with no self-worth at all.

This woman’s job is to fix them! Here is how.

1- She helps them identify some goals. Whatever small goal will be a first step and she helps removing what is in the way of reaching that goal. When success is reached (however small), self-esteem starts to build-up, another goal is established and so on.

2- She believes in them until they believe in them themselves. She is motivated for them because they are not, she tells them so and accompany them all along until they can do it by themselves. She also find other people who will believe in them too.

3- She reduces all the stress possible. Their perception is their reality. She does not say “No. This is not a problem” or “Don’t worry” etc. Instead, she helps them go through the problem or deal with it, until they perceive it positively.

4- She keeps “her hand on the tiller” (I have learnt an expression that night 😉 ), build skills to achieve goals, keep believing, set higher expectations until they believe in themselves and become good persons…

She’s helped set up several centres to care for these teenagers and saves more and more of them. A mission of love!

It was not after all only about bullying, it was a parenting course refresher. Talk talk, support and help to find solutions, set high expectations and they will deliver.

Building skills for resilience helps all life…

Thank you Wendy and all the speakers for sharing your knowledge in a very meaningful way.

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Best luck for 2012!

A long while ago, I had found a 5-leaves-clover and later the same day, I had found Clarisse in our garden… I had saved the precious lucky sign in a paper-tissue in a book, then forgot which book!

On New Year’s Eve, I found in the 5-leaved-clover in my “New Zealand Birds” book!

How is that to wish me and all loved ones around me the best of luck for 2012?

Wishing you health, happiness and resilience in 2012!

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Urban Gardening

Why gardening ?

Because it is one of the solutions to:

  • the population problem (people feeding themselves),
  • the carbon footprint problem (no food kilometres),
  • the affordability of food (seeds and seedlings are cheaper than food, then can be harvested for the next year, or swapped…)

Because it contributes to:

  • community strenghtening (gardening together, intergenerations, between neighbours)
  • better health (fresh -full of vitamins, no pesticides residues, physical activity)
  • connecting to the Earth and its natural cycles
  • relax people, provides pleasure and satisfaction therefore taking care of the gardener too!

Because it tastes good, it looks nice, it is enjoyable, rewarding and nearly free!


When owning a land, even small, it is easy to transform parts of it in vege patches, starting small, enriching the soil over the years with homemade compost.

Even when renting, most owners will allow the tenants to create raise-beds and are often happy for patches to be dug, as long as the land is restored when leaving, which is easy to do (just flatten it and saw lawn seeds). It is however more expensive as usually shorter term than above, compost usually have to be added initially and the improvement of the soil is left behind.

People living in a flat can grow on their balconies and windows… and roofs. They can advocate the creation of gardens on the shared property, in place of concreted yards or useless lawns. They can also look for some land they could use, perhaps in exchange of some work on the rest of the property. Many cities have available land that is used for gardening, family gardens or collective gardens or community gardens… Here is a list of New Zealand community gardens. If there aren’t any in your town, get some interested persons together and ask the local council for it.

If all fails, you can always start guerilla gardening, which consists in sowing and planting in public places without authorisation, even practising seed bombing. Very Naughty!


– Start small, get some books from the library (Dewey 632) or buy from or

– Do not use any chemical fertiliser nor pesticides, although you will be told it is good for your plants, even compulsory! Or you will be deceived by “natural” labels. In fact, unless it shows the Biogro label, it is not organic. So how do you take care for your plants? Compost, green manure, companion planting, crop rotation, compost, mulch, choice of local varieties, soil preparation, comfrey, nasturtium, biodiversity, observation, patience, experience and compost are some of your key-words. Did I mention compost?!

– Talk “gardening” around you. You might be surprised how many people love gardening, and have seedlings and advice to give away.

Here in Upper-Clutha…

There is no community garden… yet. It is true that we are lucky in our town, as most people do have a little patch of land around the house where to grow some veges, and many people do. It is still time to start now, if you have not yet.

There is an Upper Clutha Herb Society whose focus is on Herbs rather than veges.

Free Compost workshops are happening soon (22nd Oct 2011 and 12th Nov, 9.30-12-30, at Wanaka Wastebusters) and there is a Bio-dynamic workshops series starting 30th October.

From Green Drinks, a small group is meeting quite regularly to visit each others garden and share seedlings and knowledge.

More is probably coming, with tomorrow a forum about the Future of Food and a growing interest and need for it.