Changing Course for Life: Local Solutions to Global Problems is a manual for change, a wake-up call for us to take back control over our lives before they become irreversibly controlled – a state that is dangerously imminent. It is an examination of where we lost our way historically, socially, environmentally, agriculturally, economically, technologically, scientifically, and in law, education and spirit. It explores all these avenues and suggests ways in which we can pragmatically resolve the key dilemmas brought about by “wrong doing” in each.

The book focuses on human-scale resolutions to conflicting socio-economic problems, proposing realisable local solutions as an antidote to rapidly developing global crises. Perhaps it is noteworthy that it had not actually been my intention to write a book: what I was preparing to do was to quietly sound out interest in a new ‘citizens’ movement’ that would encourage the decentralisation of ‘top-down’ power towards a collective ‘bottom-up’ movement to retake control of our lives in the face of what seems to me to be a totalitarian Orwellian clamp-down now taking a hold across the world. It was only because my partner firmly insisted that this should firstly be the subject of a book, that I took on the task of putting the ideas in writing.

I decided to ‘begin from the beginning’. Life, as we experience it, is partly based on our Earthly experiences and aspirations and partly on our subconscious memory of earlier times, including our attempt to grasp the way unfolding historical events have led to the shaping and moulding of our current world. We therefore need to re-explore the origins of our social and cultural instincts and address the realisation that we have cast most of these instincts aside in our fixation with competitive ambitions and material comforts. ‘Relationship’ is thus destroyed, and money rules. Only by opening ourselves up to the universal forces of wisdom that guide ‘deep change’ can we gain a real understanding of what steps we now need to take and how to rebuild true relationships with each other and with our Earth.

But simultaneously, we need to underpin this ‘universality’ with hard, grounded, common sense. Here, ‘Julian Rose the farmer’ speaks, in an attempt to help us understand the forces that have been driving our species towards a suicidal rape of planetary resources and the near- extinction of native biodiversity. If we cannot grasp the unfolding line of events that have brought us to such a critical watershed, we cannot fully know what to do next and how to avoid making the same mistakes again. Civilisations have fallen, time and again, through failing to absorb the lessons of history.

But even with a grounding in ecological agriculture – the first step in ‘survival’ – we are not going to get very far. In fact our reason for being here on this planet is of far greater significance than mere survival as a species. We are supposed to be realising our unique potentiality as higher mammalians. This, it turns out, is the single most compelling reason for being born. And since many of us may have had some choice in the matter of being born, we also have some choice in what we make of our lives once we are here. ‘Education’ plays a pivotal role in whether we act on this choice or ignore it.

In a chapter entitled ‘Art, Education and Spirit’, I set out to persuade readers that, in order to avoid mental and physical sterility and in order to evolve instead towards human enrichment and spiritual enlightenment, we need root and branch reform of our education system, so that ‘education’ follows the calling of its name, whose Latin origin educere means ‘to lead out from’ and definitely not ‘to push into’. However, ‘to push into’ is still the predominant fixation of formal education and the main tool of oppression in smothering out the unique sparks of creativity that can light the future. We need thousands more Small Schools (as established by Satish Kumar in Devon) and less and less of the state-controlled opposite – and we need them now!

As I see it, Changing Course for Life is a tool for external and internal change. It offers us a foothold upon which to create – together – the new society which, deep down, is our irrepressible collective need and ultimate destiny. •

Changing Course for Life: Local Solutions to Global Problems is published by New European Publications, ISBN 9781872410715.

Julian Rose is a farmer, writer, holistic thinker, broadcaster and activist. Julian is currently President of the International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside and is working in Poland to promote new opportunities for family farms threatened by EU corporate agribusiness and GMO.