Handwoven · Tessuto a mano

Originally published on Slowear Journal on Oct 8th

Thanks to Francesca Stignani for translation

Leggi in italiano

Weaving like in the old times is an anachronistic and yet intriguing job. In Peillac, a small town in Southern Provence, Atelier aux Fils de l’Arz, owned by the Lesteven family, is one of the last places in France where they still know how to weave on a hand-operated loom, the métier a bras.

The small firm’s activity focuses on the creation of fine handwoven fabrics, made with strictly natural raw materials – eco-friendly yarns such as hemp (from Italy), linen, soy fiber and zero-mile wool from the sheep bred on the grazing land opposite the maison.

Bruno, father and husband, is in charge of the hard work. i.e. the weaving. It takes accuracy, concentration, quickness and muscular strength to control a huge six-pedal treadle loom. Wife Gaëlle is a couturière – a designer and a dressmaker. She likes to make things for her kids, friends and relatives, while Bruno’s fabrics are sold through the Internet and in the organic textiles fairs.

So what makes handwoven fabrics so unique? Mainly their strength – they last much longer than industrial fabrics, not to mention the fact that they can be customized even as far as small amounts are concerned.

Whoever wishes to learn more about this charming and traditional job can opt for a one-week internship at the Atelier – there are different levels of teaching, according to the apprentice’s basic skills. In case you’re just curious, just ask for a guided tour and you’ll be able to see old looms and century-old fabric remnants.

· Atelier Aux Fils de l’Arz ·

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Fujino Transition Town in Japan

Originally published on Slowear Journal on Sep 25th

Leggi in italiano

Japan responds to peak oil and energy issues with the green concept of Transition Towns. There are 24 such communities from the North to the South of the country, all of them founded in the early 2000s.

Fujino – one of the first Transition Towns to be born in Japan – is the closest one to Tokyo (only 50 kilometers away).  Around 20 out of 10.000 locals make up the core Transition Group, yet “locals are very open-minded towards transition’s ideas” – states Mr. Hide Enomoto of Transition Fujino.

In fact, it might be that these concepts are not so new to Fujino people.  The fundamentals of Transition Network – founded in 2008 by Rob Hopkins in Great Britain – are permaculture and resilience; in other words, it’s all about finding a clever way to adapt ourselves to socio-environmental changes by building integrated communities.

After all, the principles of sharing and community – not to mention that of “reverence” towards nature – are deeply rooted in millenary Japanese culture, from Confucianism to Shintoism. According to permaculture – which is not merely a cultivation method – human communities should mimic the natural ecosystems, efficiently organized as every little part of the system has a specific role and shares its abilities, relying in its turn on the others’ support.

So what does this mean from a practical point of view? In Fujino, people live ordinarily – eating, working, chatting, and having fun. To get around, they use an hybrid (and shared!) car, which takes advantage of slopes and has a minimum fuel stock in case of need.

Wooden houses with hay-insulated roofs lay side-by-side with one another to form a nagaya – literally “a long house” – to foster the sense of community and facilitate communication. As for the diet, most of the people at Fujino’s community eat vegetarian or macrobiotic food, although this is not mandatory: there are also people eating animal products. In fact, this one – like many others in the community – is a free choice.

For preserving freedom of choice and expression is the first step towards feeling naturally free.

• Watch the interview to Mr. Hide Enomoto here

[Transition Network]

My WWOOFing week in France – #2 Ecological housing

DID YOU KNOW…? The green roof (with humus and plants on it instead of tiles) is said to be a perfect thermal insulation system, besides being beautiful and saving your money.

LO SAPEVATE CHE…? Il tetto vegetale (disseminato di terra e piante al posto delle tegole) svolge una buona funzione di isolante termico, oltre a essere un decoro per l’ambiente e a a costare molto meno!

[Watch more videos here]

My WWOOFing diaries • Cosa vuol dire fare Woofing

wwoofing-wwoofer-wwoof

As Green Addicted living all year in the city, I decided to really go green this summer and trying my first WWOOFing experience.

WWOOF stands for Willing Workers On Organic Farms (or World-Wide Opportunities On Farming)- basically it is a program working on exchange basis: you give your workforce and receive back room and board.

I received back way more than this.

I was welcomed in a friendly family-like environment, feeling to have a useful role in the community of Guéveneaux. Kate greeted me with a smile as I arrived at Redon station, than she explained to me how they decided to change their diet towards eating only local products, coming from their own garden or from France, areas next to Britain are preferred. As part of keeping the relation with the environment local, they decided to use ecosan (ecological sanitation) instead of common water toilets, so that precious waste will turn in compost.

[Watch the video interview]

Poichè sono una Green Addicted ma vivo tutto l’anno in città, ho deciso quest’anno di fare una vacanza ultraverde lanciandomi nella mia prima esperienza di woofing!

Se ancora non sapete cos’è ora ve lo spiego: la sigla WOOFing sta per Willing Workers On Organic Farms (lavoratori volontari in fattorie biologiche) o anche World-Wide Opportunities On Farming (opportunità di vita da fattoria in tutto il mondo). Per un certo periodo di tempo, si decide di dedicare volontariamente alcune ore della propria giornata ai lavori di fattoria e si riceve in cambio vitto e alloggio.

Ma non solo. Io ho ricevuto in cambio molto più di questo.

Sono stata accolta da un ambiente molto aperto e familiare, che mi ha fatto sentire subito a mio agio nella piccola comunità di Guéveneaux. Mi ricordo ancora quando Kate mi ha accolto con un grande sorriso appena arrivata alla stazione di Redon: mi sono sentita a casa. Durante il tempo che abbiamo trascorso insieme mi ha raccontato diverse cose, come la decisione di voler seguire una dieta ecologica strettamente locale o la scelta di utilizzare il wc secco invece di quello ad acqua. Trovate tutto nella sua videointervista, buona visione!