Hoorn in the 19th Century:Painting by W.R. Dommersen

Back in the mid 1990s I was mired in a period of depression. I’d almost lost my marriage and ended up in a place I never expected to be—a below sea level part of the Netherlands. I didn’t initially speak the language and couldn’t find work to support my young family. Then, after making rapid headway with Dutch, I landed a job in a biodynamic family orchard in the country near our home. I’ve recorded a segment of Chapter 13 from my new book, Beyond the Search, which tells a little of the beautiful experience I had while working in that orchard. I hope you enjoy.

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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and the recently released Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.com

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

 

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Rangikapiti as Seen from Mangonui

New Zealand is an island nation with a climate highly favourable to the growth of endemic plants and introduced species. Certain exotic visitors grow far more rampantly here than in their original environments, often threatening native bush areas. Until now, the most common way of dealing with these introduced ‘pests’ has been through the use of poisons. A 34 hectare area of regenerating (after it was cleared by Europeans and Maori) native forest adjacent to where we live at Coopers Beach, called Rangikapiti Reserve, is one such area. A kind-hearted local group of people have banded together to protect this Department of Conservation reserve from fast growing smothering plants introduced from neighbouring gardens. Asparagus scandens, commonly known as Asparagus Fern and seen other countries in bouquets of cut flowers, is the principal culprit at present. The well meaning group, called Friends of Rangikapiti Reserve, is using Roundup, the Monsanto product of known and documented toxicity to human and animal health, to clear the area of Asparagus scandens and other introduced species. The following words are from a letter I wrote this morning in response to one of the founders of Friends of Rangikapiti Reserve asking for financial support for their efforts.

‘I regret to say I cannot continue my financial support of Friends of Rangikapiti Reserve Soc. Inc. for moral reasons. I personally cannot support the spraying of the reserve with toxic chemicals (no matter how non-toxic they are claimed to be). The results I see and feel during my morning walks grate my moral conscience. Local scientist Andreas Kurmann (I interview him this week) has proven that there is far more erosion, leaching of important minerals and pollution of precious groundwater on sprayed versus organically treated land.

Asparagus Fern with Berry

For me the means don’t justify the end.

I’d be happy to continue my financial support if the funds were used to pay, say, a team of three local people to physically dig out asparagus scandens and other offending exotic plants. Berries and seeds could be removed; then most other plant material could be mulched on site. Obviously, the tubers of asparagus fern would need to be physically removed from the area. This proposal would give a badly needed boost (albeit it temporary) to local employment and would not finance a chemical company (non-local employment).

What I see as the result of present methods of chemical eradication of weeds is the degraded health of regenerating native forest together with the death and destruction of the understorey (including natives) and vital micro organisms in the top soil, disturbance to a delicate ecological balance, poisoning of ground water and, ultimately, contamination of kai moana (sea food) in Doubtless Bay. In my humble and personal opinion, Papatūānuku (Mother earth) is crying.

Is it not time to start thinking outside the box and begin to find creative non-toxic solutions to exotic vegetation problems in our indigenous forests? As a D.O.C. friend recently told me, regretfully, “Conservation in New Zealand is all about killing.” I trust together we can find a solution that works for all parties, including the ones we are responsible for (our Nature relations) who don’t speak our language but who are crying out to be heard. Tane (God of the Forest) will be pleased.’

Let’s move together from a paradigm of poison to one of creative solutions, muscle and common sense. Surely this is possible.

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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

 

In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

The other day I interviewed members of an immensely talented local band, a sort of reggae/funk ensemble. I asked the drummer what he did when he wasn’t playing music. He gave me a perplexed looked and thought for a moment before replying, “This is what I do…every day.”

 

Years ago while living at our retreat centre in the valley we were regularly graced with the visits of WWOOFers (Willing Workers on Organic Farms), young people from many nations who exchanged about four hours of work per day for a bed, meals and our knowledge of the land and organics. One such visitor was an enthusiastic young lady from Ireland. She was a remarkably balanced and happy person with a clear vision of what she wanted in life. She spoke one evening over a meal of how her father had positively influenced her and her siblings when she was growing up. He used to tell them that his job was simple. All he had to do was to help them each to find what it was that they really loved and then to encourage them to pursue it wholeheartedly. A wise man and wise words.

 

Isn’t this the key to happiness? Find out what you love and then do it wholeheartedly. Like the drummer in the band. Simple, isn’t it?

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As an organic gardener, nutrition educator and supporter and campaigner for the Green Party in New Zealand, I’ve often wondered why people just haven’t got it yet. Commercially grown food, high in spray residues, is unhealthy for the consumer and for the environment. Let’s trust that those in power continue to make intelligent choices and that people continue to support their local farmers markets and organic growers. Cuba has shown that an entire nation can be fed organically. Our forefathers were. They knew nothing but organic. How soon we forget.

Here’s something from the NY Times that I find very positive:

Is a Food Revolution Now in Season?

From: The New York Times | March 22, 2009

Advocates of organic and locally grown food have found a receptive ear in the White House, which has vowed to encourage a more nutritious and sustainable food supply. Read more at The New York Times »

 

John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives

Yesterday, beginning at the unusual time of 4.15 am I was interviewed by Mike Meier of the syndicated radio show, Morning X. It was a more civilized time for Mike in Michigan—11.15 am the day before! We spoke for more than half an hour about my journey in search of simplicity. When I mentioned that the simple villagers I spent significant portions of time with in the 1980s—the  Hunzas of Northern Pakistan and the Trobriand Islanders of Papua New Guinea—would  be unaffected by the current economic crisis, Mike countered with the comment that the Amish in his area of Michigan were the same. When approached about their feelings about the money situation in the world they would typically respond, “Financial crisis? What financial crisis?” I then corroborated his views with my experiences each time I visit southern Ontario. The Mennonites living there would also be virtually immune to the situation we presently find ourselves in. I love taking a drive through the areas in which they live without cars and electricity. Some bring produce to the farmers markets in their horse drawn buggies. Their fruits and vegetables are always of the finest organic quality.

 

fruits_and_vegetables25b15d

 

Why do I write this? Because I think we can all learn from these examples. We don’t need to return strictly to the ways of our pasts, but any of us can grow some food in a little garden. Even apartment dwellers can plant garlic, onions, lentils and buckwheat in pots for living greens to enhance their salads. I learned years ago that I don’t need to grow all of our food, but there is tremendous satisfaction (and very real health benefits) in growing some of one’s food organically. Get planting! For more on this check out what Gaia member Lee O’Hara has to say at http://www.organichomegardener.com/.

 

Happy gardening.

 

Here’s the link to the interview I had on Morning X, Friday, March 20, 2009 beginning at 11.15 am: http://www.stickam.com/viewMedia.do?mId=183242782. Please note that Mike and I begin our discussion about five minutes into this recording.

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Ray Woolf has been in the music business for between 46 and 50 years, depending on when you begin counting. He speaks of his early days in England where he lived until he was 17. Early inspirations for him included sciffle music, Frank Sinatra and Elvis. For those of you that don’t know (and I must admit that I didn’t) sciffle music was the first mainstream music said to come from England and was a mixture of country and blues.

Listen to the complete interview here:

Ray Woolf sang pop rock music in the 60s and 70s. Ray was awarded the Entertainer of the Year Award in 1975, best T.V. light entertainer awards in 1977, 1978, 1979, and 1980 and the variety artists’ BENNY Award in October, 2008. Ray also received recognition of his services to entertainment by way of a Queen’s service medal in the New Year of 2008.

The music we spotlight during our Voices from the North interview represents a return for Ray to the Frank Sinatra-type American standards that he grew up with. Frankly, I think he sounds a lot like Sammy Davis Junior. Most of the songs are backed up by the very talented Rodger Fox Big Band, a group of young performers, mostly from Auckland.

Speaking of Sammy Davis Junior, Ray and John talk about Sammy and his extremely inspiring book Yes I Can. Sammy Davis paved the way for young black entertainers that followed and even Barrack Obama’s success today.

Ray speaks of his experience with Type One diabetes, which he has had to deal with for 20 years. A lot of his charity work is related to diabetes, as well as Star Jam for handicapped folks. Ray and his wife grow a lot of their own food, organically. He strongly advises anyone getting going on their own garden. I find it refreshing to hear this well known character speaking so passionately about growing their own food. The diabetes has forced Ray to make a lot of changes. He’s not a vegetarian but he sometimes goes a long time without meat. He stopped smoking and dramatically reduced his drinking. He’s 64 today, looking great and still going strong.

The songs featured include Where or When, Goody Goody, The Day My Heart Caught Fire (first time ever played on the radio), Birth of the Blues and Feel So Young.

Ray’s advice for a young person wanting to break into the business—really want it. Don’t let anything stop you. He has learned to never say no to opportunities. You don’t know what can come out of experiences. The things that come along unexpectedly can represent defining moments in your life. Ray is a passionate man and really likes the breadth of music that is available today.

CLICK BELOW TO:

Subscribe to In Search of Simplicity by Email

Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews