How the Covid Lockdown Saved the Brithdir Mawr Cawd Ecovillage

Saving Our Ecovillage
 
Journeyman Pictures (2020)
 
Film Review
 
This documentary tells the fascinating story of a 25-year-old ecovillage in West Wales that was inadvertently saved from privatization by the UK Covid lockdown in March.
Working together over decades, the 17 residents of Brithdir Mawr Cawd have built a totally self sufficient of grid system through which they provide their own electricity, water and sewage disposal (based on composting toilets). Then in late 2019, when their 25-year lease* expired, the  the owner opted to sell the property instead of renewing it.
 
Faced with the challenge of raising $1 million to buy their own homes, they hired a business advisor to help them create a fundraising plan. Luck was with them. The UK-wide lockdown Boris Johnson ordered in March 2020 (which wreaked havoc on the British real estate market) granted them an automatic six months extension.
 
The business plan they created includes a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) scheme, through which they produce fruits and vegetables for the wider community, in  addition to a massive apple orchard that will produce apple juice, cider and vinegar and a U-pick strawberry and raspberry patch for local residents and tourists.
 
Faced with the continuing lockdown, the landowner has now agreed to give them six years to raise $1 million to buy the property.
 
In the film several Brithdir Mawr Cawd’s members speak candidly about their easons for joining and the advantages and disadvantages of living in a small close-knit community. Prior to Covid, the Welsh ecovillage hosted volunteers who traded their labor for training in off-grid living skills. Brithdir Mawr Cawd was also responsible for pressuring the Welsh Assembly to pass the One Planet Planning Law. The latter allows residents to build carbon neutral structures in designated green spaces.

*At present, Brithdir Mawr Cawd hold “leasehold” title to their land. Although uncommon in the US, with leasehold titl, the homeowner only owns his house and leases the property from a separate landowner. This contrasts with freehold title, where the homeowner owns both the house and land.
 

 

 

India, COVID19 and Inequality

India: Under Lockdown

Al Jazeera (2020)

Film Review

This documentary focuses on the devastating impact of India’s COVID19 lockdown on millions of the country’s migrant workers. India is experiencing a similar pattern to China, with many rural adults migrating to the city for work – and sending money back home to their families.

When Indian prime minister Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day lockdown on March 24, he ordered 1.3 billion residents confined to their homes with four hours notice. The immediate effect was to leave millions of casual workers without jobs and with no means to return to their rural villages.

The filmmakers focus on New Delhi, a city of 20 million. When public transport was shut down, thousands of migrant workers tried to walk home along the freeways. Most were stopped and sent back to the slums. There they live, without soap or running water, in makeshift huts, many made from cotton sheets.

At the time of filming, the government was trying to provide two meals a day (consisting of rice and soup) for millions of stranded migrant workers. However it’s estimated several hundreds of thousands missed out.

In New Delhi, United Sikh Volunteers helped fill the gap by cooking and distributing balanced meals to starving migrant workers. People could ring a hotline to let the Sikh volunteers know where food was needed. Their goal was to reach 10 slums a day.

An even bigger problem than food for poor residents was access to medical care. To keep beds open for COVID19 patients, free public hospitals turned away patients with cancer and other life threatening illnesses.