The Resilient Life Workshops
“The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived.”― Robert Jordan
Being resilient is not just about being creative in the kitchen or having your own garden or homestead, it’s about how to apply a more resourceful attitude to living. Firstly, it’s about practising those mundane, every-day routines through a sense of ritual and meditation, i.e., mindfully preparing food, doing the washing up, cleaning, dressing, walking, driving etc. We see it as evolving from fast-track living, rushing mindlessly through life without acknowledging the here and now, staying in the moment and being present. This fundamental grounding is where the roots of personal resilience grow, allowing you to ultimately bend and flow with the winds and tides, just like the wise willow tree does.
The Resilient Life is an ongoing project devised by Vicky Radtke and Tanja Gangar, two friends with a long, intermittent history and very diverse life-experiences. That is to say, until a few years ago when their lives collided over a cup of tea and cake in the local village shop, where both women realised that they shared a deeper philosophy on living.
Over the last 14 years Vicky and her husband Dave had been nurturing their four children in a their’ farmhouse in the East Sussex countryside. Vicky was well practised at growing her own vegetables and making her own bread (amongst other things) as well as regularly teaching these honed skills to others. Tanja on the other hand had recently been through a divorce, taken a mid-life gap-year to Study yoga in India, and was in a brand-new relationship. She had just moved from Brighton to the countryside and found that not only was she living in the neighbouring village to Vicky but that her newly aspiring lifestyle was also lying in parallel to Vicky’s. Eventually, after connecting with other like-minded locals with similar aspirations, the Green Onion Society was born, a group of people who strive to live a more self-sufficient life. Promoting a gifting and sharing economy and a more resilient approach. They founded a wonderful start to the project, with many takers from all walks of life wanting to practise a more efficient, greener community with a less consumerist attitude. They celebrated their collective with a very jolly Wassail festival under the apple trees where much homemade spiced apple wine was drunk on the Twelfth Night, followed by more meetups where seeds and ferments were swapped, and garden communal digs happened. Then, just as momentums were building and more “Gunions” joining, the unthinkable happened and we were all cast back into our own homes to live in the nucleuses of our families.
All was not lost however, Vicky and Tan continued to communicate (as did the Green Onions), all using the space and gifted time to grow and nurture their gardens, forage, ferment, brew, bake, preserve and share all these endeavours through the magic of social media. Vicky and Tanja both enjoyed the space and time that Lock-down provided and encouraged each other daily to be as productive and creative as possible, Tan, continuing to teach yoga and art online but also pursuing projects in her art studio and using the walls of her cottage as an alternative canvas; Vicky also continued to expand creatively through her knitting, painting and bread baking not to mention the two pigs she and her family matured under the oak tree on their homestead, that fed the entire household for a year with the tastiest organic meat.
During these uncertain times (the “new-normal”), skills that were nurtured now seemed essential and promoted a sense of wellbeing and security. For instance, the importance of no wastage and the cycles from seed to soil; growing to composting and finally field to fork. Both women encouraged each other to forage and fetch, creating ferments and brews kombochas, vinegars and country wines with gifts from the hedgerows and their own cottage gardens.
– Our philosophy –
We believe that living a resilient life is not just about baking bread or growing veg, it’s a more rounded approach to a way of living. It’s about connectivity between thinking, feeling, and doing.
Within the context of the Resilient Life our take on sometimes overly used words such as holistic or mindful, will translate accordingly, for instance an holistic approach to life is one that incorporates the, practical, physical and spiritual within the context of daily living.
We believe that the Resilient Life is one that is not at all prescriptive or self-conscious but an understanding that this way of being is ultimately informal and something that will take us down paths that are totally unplanned. It’s about adaptability.
It’s a way of life that is responding to the connectiveness of everything. For instance, when making a sourdough loaf which was a popular pastime for many over lock-down, the breaking of the bread is our response to the wild yeasts in the atmosphere around us; reacting with the grains which has been milled to make the flour; water that has come from the atmosphere; grains from the earth; sea salt from the ocean and the vital energy of our hands that bring all these elements together. This is our ethos for living and one that by its nature thrives through sharing and nurturing in communion.