Sunday, 26 February 2012

local food: abundant elderberry

Have you noticed the trees and the birds landing ever-more heavily as their bellies swell with the seasons bounty?
Elder trees are abundant in the Harbour Basin. In the Spring they are a wonderful source of elderflowers that can be made into a sweet, refreshing Summer cordial drink. Right now it is time to pick the berries and transform them into a flu-busting, vitamin C rich syrup. Each year we forage enough to make up a few batches of the syrup as an immune booster for the coming months.

This is what I do:

1 cup elderberries.
3 cups water
1 cup honey/sugar.

Rinse well and pull the berries away by running a fork along the stalks. Do not steep with stalks attached as this part of the plant is toxic.  Place berries in a pot with the 3 cups of water and bring to the boil and then reduce heat and simmer the brew for 45 minutes with the lid on.
Stir in the honey, bottle and store. 
This will store well in the fridge for up to 3 months.

A couple of weeks back I tried some locally made elderberry liqueur which was a particularly special drink. There are quite a few recipes on the net but I'm holding out for a copy of the local recipe.

Posted by Jacinda, also occassionally writing at

Friday, 24 February 2012

Cultivating Gratitude

We haven't been writing here for a while have we?
Some of us have been tired - in fact I think the whole of Canterbury was collectively exhausted by the end of last year - some of us took a break. Some of us have lost our way with our inspiration but then some us us have been inspired daily. Most of us have been relaxing through the Summer.
But then as the rhythum spirals back around, we have found our way back here writing again.

We are experimenting with what it's like to be a group which is self-organising and writes from a place of passion and interest and not of obligation. It's fun to try less prescriptive ways of working together and is such an opportunity for stretching old habits and learning new ways of working together.
We want you to know that we love the comments you leave us because the dialogue is the main reason we are here. We are particularly interested in extending the dialogue around details of what a regenerative community looks like and the nuts and bolts of  local, democratic, grassroots movements. Consciousness expansion is necessary if we are to make it through some of the challenges ahead  so we are always up for a bit of that and then of course there is the more general sharing of skills and tips for developing healthy, self-reliant, learning communities. We are also interested in sharing our humanness.

The spirit here in Lyttelton is feeling robust.
Every day we gain confidence in our power as a community.
The clip below reminded me  of the anniversary of the February earthquake earlier this week. So many Cantabrians, consciously or not, have  cultivated a practice of gratitude over the past year. In the midst of thousands of aftershocks and with so much of our external world in shatters, we have chosen thankfulness as an antidote for despair.
The people here and the spirit of this place are on the top of my list.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

A year on.

When a community intentionally develops systems of sharing resources, caring for each other and general local resilience many of us in that community steps up into a new space of trust, love and faith in each other. The culture of the community slowly, and at times not so slowly, shifts and the community begins to evolve as a whole. Self-organisation becomes possible. People reclaim belief in their own agency and co-creation becomes the norm.
Today is 22nd February - one year on from the devastating earthquake in 2011 when Lyttelton lost some  of it's people, most of it's town but found it's resilience.
Many congregated at the Petanque court to gather with friends, neighbours and others, to hold hands together as a community at 12.51pm. It was a largely self-organised event. There was no "organiser," no "leader of ceremonies." Instead we gathered and as we did, others joined. Different people made offerings in quiet and respectful ways - "shall we hold hands?""I'll call the time" "I feel like we should sing a song" - and in this way we co-created a community commemoration. A local commemoration that was intimate, personal and real and uniquely met the needs of us here in Lyttelton.
Deep gratitude to all those Lytteltonians who have held on during the past year, taken care of our children, our aged and our vulnerable, found it in themselves to help others and who have embraced the local flavour of persistence, determination, celebration and love. 

 And if you happen to be reading this from Wellington or are visiting the capital in the next month, check out the display of Lyttelton Hearts at the Te Papa exhibition "Kia Kaha Christchurch - One Year On."

Posted by Jacinda, also writing occassionally at