Street Law taught by Karim

We had an appointment in front of the Central Station, at 6 p.m. The last lights of the day were passing through the trees’ branches of the park – slightly gloomy and always busy – leading to the old building. There, a dozen of students were waiting in circle, jumping from one feet to another, because the temperature was falling under 10 degrees and no one had expected this sunny day to turn into a cold night.

Breaking the circle, a strange guy began to talk with one of the Czech students. He wore a black straight trouser and black shoes, but his top did not fit with this boring and serious outfit. He had several sweater overloading each other, the last one representing strange orange apocalyptic figures related with some kind of heavy metal band. Around the neck, he had a foolish set of necklaces, from every style: fake pearls, feathers, little figurines… On each of his fingers, he carried 5 to 6 rings; once again, no consistency in their style, rings from every kind, every form, every material. His fingers ended up with glittery silver coloured fake nails. His old and cheap pink sunglasses hid his eyes. When he took them of, a couple of minute later, they revealed an abundance of make-up, black under his eyes, silver on his eyelid, extremely long fake lashes, and tired eyes full of sorrow and weariness.

That was Karim, our guide for the next three hours.

Pragulic’s concept

Indeed, all the students waiting in circle accepted the proposition of our buddy system to make a visit with Pragulic, a social enterprise that offers to visit the beautiful city of Prague with homeless people, to get the chance to see the city through their eyes, and share, just for few moments, their experience, their position, their issues …

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A story of prostitution and drugs

And Ziggy’s issues are drugs and prostitution. He ended up on the street quite young and fell into prostitution. Therefore, he knows quite good the business, the district specialization (the one dedicated to heterosexual, homosexual, transformer or children), the different business models and the zone where they apply (in one district only free-lancer, in this park everyone has a pimp, in those streets some clubs offer protection).

Honestly, after 5 minutes of talk we were flabbergasted to a point you can barely imagine. We didn’t get every single detail, this world remained very far from us, although it was narrowing with every word coming out of Karim’s mouth.

The drug was a topic he somehow mastered.

He explained us all the different kind of drugs we could find on the street, where to get them, how we could make our own drug (crocodile) with everyday products like washing powder, soap and other detergent.

More important, he made it clear that anyone could end up on the street very fast, because of familial or work problem, and that then, you had little chance to come back on the other side, the good side, the clean side (only 2% he said). Reason for that? Madness.

Indeed, street – for people who live on it – is a different world as the one we know. It is an organized world, submitted to different rules, a « normal » people would maybe not understand.

Most of the people ending up on the street were disown by their families and have to make their place in this world, finding a way to earn money (stealing, begging, prostituting), to get protection, a place to sleep.

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Little Tricks

Karim puts a particular affection into everything he told us, as if he was feeling a mix of love and disgust for the mad life and the mad world he was leaving in. He was proud to know so much and be the one who revealed all those secrets most the people ignore. He told us many tricks on how to survive on the street, here are some of them:

Everything about Dumpster

They are the Nr. 1 place where people sleep, because they help them protect from cold. They are two kinds of dustbin, those in plastic, and those in metal. You better choose one in metal, because it resonates. So, usually, before jumping into a dumpster, you have to bang it with your feet, if someone is sleeping inside, he will shut at you, otherwise, you can jump into it. Equally, the garbage men can inform you before emptying the dustbin, otherwise, it may kill you.

The food eaten by the homeless comes mainly from the dustbin, so if you want to help homeless people, you can just put the rest of your food nearby a dustbin instead of putting it inside. As well if you want to throw out objects that may still work. Indeed, as soon as you put them inside the garbage, it becomes the property of the city. If you put it besides, everyone is allowed to take it.

The many usages of aluminium foal

Aluminium foal may be one of your best allies if you are living on the street. Indeed, you can wrap yourself with it to stay warm. You can also use it to steal stuff in shops. You need to put many lays of aluminium foal in your bag and then put the stolen object in it. The aluminium will impeach the chip to ring at the entrance. Finally, you can test the drug you buy with aluminium. You put the powder on it and heat the bottom of it. If it evaporates, then it is good shit, if it becomes dark, then the guy is trying to rip you off.

By attending the tour, you will learn a lot more on how to find drugs, where to have the cheapest prostitute, VIP party you do not want to be part of, …

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Seriously, the visit was an upsetting experience that allows us to dig into the street’s life. The most striking idea I kept from it, is that everything is very organized and submitted to very precise rules: the place you sleep, the place you work, the way you behave with your client, your « friend ».  Another point that stokes me is the influence of the street on your mental health. Karim made it clear that people living on the street have their mind turned over, and this in very little time, few months or weeks maybe.

It led me to think that public forces should do everything possible to prevent people from living on the streets, how bad the current economic or social (blah blah blah) situation is, and even if their arrivals were unexpected, because it is a one-way journey, and there will be very few chances to bring them back to decent lives after a short time. On the other hand, living on the street, they will certainly make the number of rubber, prostitute and drugs dealer grow, what public forces are supposed to avoid.

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Permaculture – intelligence is not only made for destruction

Today, I want to talk about a topic few people know about but which is gaining a growing importance and influence around the world. I had the chance to participate in an ecological festival where I saw a film called « Inhabit, a permaculture persepective » that deeply inspired me, and I therefore want to share with you (in a nutshell, as usual) what I learned from it. I put some resources in case you want to explore more deeply this passionating topic.

 Permaculture – a new conception of agriculture

The main idea of this movement born in the USA in the 1970’s is to rethink the role of the human in the agriculture. Agriculture is often seen as the exploitation of soil by the dominating power, the human. This led to many health and ecological disasters.

In the permaculture method, human is only a part of the ecosystem and its role is to use its knowledge and intelligence to design the process and organize the environment so that earth becomes more productive without the help of chemicals.

The permaculture movement enlightens the fact that humans can not only reduce their impact on the environment but they can also do good for it.

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 Concrete applications

 Through the film, we discover many initiatives implemented in the countryside as well as in the cities and suburbs.

Association of plant, recycling of rain water, use of animals, recycling of human waste are all methods used by permaculture that not only allow better production in quantity and quality but also stem problems that human society faces nowaday.

 In the film, we discover how a man manages to grow 46 species of fruit and 100 other plants in a 1/10 acres space that was totally abandoned in the middle of an American suburb.

Other groups of permaculturers use rain water, that causes disaster in their city, by deviating it and let it nourrish rain gardens, or capture it to cultivate green rooftops.

Michal Phillips enlightens the role of bacteria in making trees stronger. Instead of spraying pesticides on them, he sprays a mix of good bacteria that allows them to fight against insects.

Susana Lay Lein combined beans and pumpkin, plants that fit together to make their field productive, and uses turkey and chicken to eat insect, instead of using chemicals.

 Many other examples that illustrate our moto « there are more solution than problems » are shown in this film, and it does us real good !

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 You can find many explanations and concrete applications to put in practice wherever you live  on the internet.

Here is an official website in french :https://permacultureprinciples.com/fr/

And some concrete pieces of advice :http://www.permaculturedesign.fr/le-jardin-en-permaculture/

Here in english : https://permacultureprinciples.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Essence_of_Pc_EN.pdf

Here you can find courses to get concrete advice to help you putting those pieces of advice in practice : https://www.permaculture.org.uk/about/learn

 Here you can see the trailer of the movie and watch it only against fee : https://vimeo.com/ondemand/inhabit/126800869

Crazy Vegan DBC (Death By Chocolate)

Gluten-free, light and mysterious !

I would like to share here a recipe I found on internet and slightly modified. I love it first because it is very rich in chocolate, it is very easy to make and suitable for every tip of chocolate lover, and overall, because it is mainly composed of a mysterious ingredient !

I do not know if you have such an impish spirit as I do, but letting people (try to) guess this ingredient give me as much pleasure as actually eating this cake !

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Preparation : 30 min

Baking : 20 min

You need :

  • 2 eggplants of medium size (the mysterious ingredient 😉 )
  • 300 gr of chocolate, 400 gr for the crazyest cooker. You can adapt the quantity of chocolate to the size of the eggplants.
  • 120 gr of almond powder
  • 100 gr of sugar or agave sirup for the coolest cooker among you. Take into consideration the percentage of cacao of your chocolate and your own taste when you decide how much sugar your put in the cake. If you prefere, you can replace sugar by date mash, you just need to cut the date and heat them with a bit water.
  • 50-100 gr of unsweetened cacao
  • 1 to 2 bananas

You can add vanilla sugar, a drop of coffee, an orange zest or even rhum, chocolate get along with almost everything !

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  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Cut the eggplants in two after you have washed them. Cook them in boiling water for around 20 minutes. When they are tender (pick a knife in them to be sure), let them cool for a while and peel them. Take care not to get burnt !
  3. Cut them in little pieces, and put them in a bowl. If there is water, throw it away.
  4. Add the melted chocolate, and mix it with the eggplants. You can use a crushed potato ustensil, a fork, a mixer or your hands, if you don’t have any of those stuff.
  5. Add the sugar, the cacao, the almond and the smashed banana (if they are not riped enough, you can heat them). Mix everything together.
  6. Pour the batter in a baking pan, previously oiled and floured.
  7. Cook the cake for 20 minutes.

The cake will never become hard, so to avoid accident when you turn it out, you better wait a bit for it to cooled.

Lukewarm it is incredibly melting.

After one night in fridge, it almost has the texture of a chocolate mousse ❤

Strong sensation and new experience lovers, it is your turn to play !

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Strike the Sky, listen the noise – A meditation teacher look back on its art

In his book Fabrice Midal offers us a more or less chronological exploration of its experience of mediation, from the balbutiating begins of a lost 20 years boy to his experience as a recognized teacher in Paris, via the seminar in the United States, in the footsteps of Chogyam Trumpa.

A window on the meditation’s world

With modesty and sincerity, Fabrice Midal tells us about his decisive meeting, his discoveries, his doubts with a personal and critique eye. He explains what is – to him- mediation, what it enables him to understand about himself and mankind, the trap it encompasses.

A yogi writing

One of the good point of this book is its style. Very simple and flowing, this book is rich of references coming from the long year of study of its author. Quotations and references are presented with simplicity and in a very personal manner, what is, in my eyes, the better promotion. The story of the reading of Chogyam Trumpa especially makes your mouth water, fill your mind with dreams and your heart with passion, references to Bob Wilson makes you run to theater, memories of the retreat make you feel travelling around the world.

A moving demonstration

Eventually, this book is as much a testimony as a demonstration of what meditation may brings you: Midal carries a serein look on every protagonist of the book, including himself. The book is suffused with benevolence for all its protagonists, including its author. Its a generous and erudite book, which revelead a demanding discipline with help of many anecdotes and quotations, borrowing from other disciplines and great texts.

Through out his testimony, Fabrice Midal call us on the pass of meditation, sometimes sharp, but always flowered, and it is very hard to resist him.

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The trap of drive purchase or Work more to eat badly

Today, I want to deal with the hard topic of online and drive purchase. In a nutshell, its the child of one of the two magical words of today’s marketing : digital (the other one is ecology). It allows consumer to make their purchase from their office, and then to pick them up in a warehouse, where under-paid student who will probably develop prematurely backache will put their precious good in their car or deliver it to their home.

Precious, really ?

Undoubtly, if you rely on the price of this service, that is justified – of course – by the huge comfort this service brings to the user, giving him the freedom to make shopping in the middle of the night (!) or by the time they will save using it. But not if you consider the personal investment of the consumer. And that is where the shoe pinches.

Let me explain you my point of view: the consumer is in a hurry (of course, otherwise he won’t use this kind of service), he thus do shopping in a rush, without taking care of what he is buying. He clicks randomly, following the proposals of the website he is surfing on, and that are very likely dictated by marketing logics, that put forward the richest brand, those who are able to buy those good positioning. In other words, the consumer is even easier to manipulate than in a real supermarket, and the big fishes only take profit of it.

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Even worse

The fact to do your shopping in a hurry, and the fact that you sometimes (often?!) receive the wrong products – light yoghurts instead of the real ones, chocolate powder for babies instead of the normal one, an XXL pack of biscuit instead of the L version, pasta without gluten instead of complete ones – may lead you to think « the ones are as good as the others, all the products are alike, there is no difference ». In a nutshell, while you are opening the cardboard, and throwing the bubble wrap away, you are telling yourself « Boy ! Whatever happens, all that is the same shit ! No use trying to discriminate or classified those products among them, on this website, with those tiny pictures and abbreviated descriptions, you won’t make it. »

Indeed, the repetition of those mistakes shows that the consumer do not have the power to see and understand what he is buying. But he still pays and eat something he didn’t actually chose.

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Why do you have to go to the front and fight in the supermarket

You want to tell me: « yes maybe, but it is a pledge to go to supermarket, if we can avoid it, why wouldn’t we do it ? ».

I will answer you: if you are not interested by what you are putting in your body and on your skin, you should like yourself very few…

Why don’t see the fact of going to the supermarket as a way to take care of yourself (as all those magazine warmly encourage you to, as well as your mum and myself) ? It may be far more beneficial for your health and for your mood reading the label of the product you put on your plate than doing 30 minutes jogging every morning in the polluted atmosphere of your city.

Of course, it requiers a certain effort to use your vigilance on what you are buying but, on the other hand, it seems very dangerous to me to let multinationales and supermarket companies decide what you put on your plate and, what more, to regard it as a progress.

Because, in the very end, the problem comes from the fact that people are too busy  winning money, that they will then give, without wanting it, to the same people that force them to work so much. Everything (you) is wrapped up.

Pierre Rabhi – It is the time you spend on your rose that makes your rose so important

Its time to begin the series of article upon inspiring people. Those people who reminds us that human being is good, is kind and carry the answer to all its problems. I would like to began here with the example of Pierre Rabhi. So let’s go !

 

His life

In interviews, books or talks, Pierre Rabhi likes to lean on its life to explain his point of view and actions. Thus, the following paragraph those not constitute an exclusivity,  but we feel it may be useful for the reader.

Pierre Rhabi was born in Algeria, his father is a blacksmith and a poet. He is poor and ask a couple of French people to take care of the little Pierre. The boy choose to adopt christianisme before he leave all kind of religion, after a fight with his father on that topic.

In the 50’s, he arrives in France and find a job as a specialized worker in a Parisian factory. There he meets Michele, the woman he will share its life with. After some time, the couple decide to abandon a life of exploitation without perspective to a move Rabhi call « back to the land », that is the root of its whole thoughts and work. They borrow some money to buy a piece of land in the french region of Ardèche. Thanks to years of work, the arid and stony soil becomes generous.

Since the 60’s, Pierre Rabhi cultivate its land and develop techniques of agroeocology and biodynamic. He shares its knowledges and discovery in workshops, through conferences, in books and thanks to international development missions.

To learn more about Rabhi’s life, you can read Vers la Sobriété heureuse, go on Rabhi website  or listen to some emission, or read the translation of its talk in the TEDX in Paris.

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Some ideas we took on : 

-ressources of earth are not unlimited, since earth has, in itself, limits (1), now the ressources of earth are the first and most important source of economic development (2), thus, our economy must be limited by the limited ressources of earth. That is the reason why  pretending to seek to an unlimited growth, as most of the country in the world does, is a dangerous lie and misunderstanding of the problem, unless we planned to colonize some new planets in a short term. In other word, its time to calm down, reconsider the situation and think about degrowth…

-The most valuable good we own, as human, is earth, that provides us everything we need to be happy (food, water, other humans). But, we constantly hurt her. It would be nice considering stoping constant assault, with chemicals especially. We not solely produce tons of waste, among them nuclear waste, pollute the oceans and depopulate them (that’s already something you would tell me), but even the soil that are today « productive » are so only because we add to them chemicals. Doing so, we push them to the limit, we tire  them and make them possibly unusable for the coming generations.  (article on the link of flood and agriculture, that give idea of the denaturation of soil by agriculture, see here : http://www.hydrol-earth-syst-sci.net/11/96/2007/hess-11-96-2007.pdf)

Now i see all the skeptic coming and arguing: « Yes my dear, but thanks to all that chemicals, we will soon be able to brings food to every human on the planet. Isn’t that truly awesome ? Thanks to Monsanto-Bayer ! » (actually, we are already producing enough food for all the planet, but we spoil the half because of bad stock management …).

And at that point I have to answer you, you are right, but what we are producing is less good on a nutritional point of view, and some time even harmful for the health. About the lost of nutriment in the vegetable and fruit, see this study, among others.

-There is an alternative option for this intensive agriculture that is harmful for both earth and humans: agroecology. It consists in a set of techniques that we may qualified as « natural » and that aims at fructifying the earth by respecting it, helped by patience rather than chemical. This science conceive working the soil as a practice that should respect and perceive the environment as a whole, and integer to it the human factor. More detail about it may be find here.

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To conclude:

-to dedicate time to things that are important and precious (earth’s health, our health, ourselves), is the only manner to live a good life, in an approach that allies self-happiness and other-respect, as well as other-happiness and self-respect.

Pierre Rabhi’s engagement 

It takes multiple forms. Pierre Rabhi wrote numerous books and participate to various films about being-human, agriculture, politic that you may find here.

He militates for the food sovereignty and a local production of edible goods. He participated to various exchange with South country, especially in Africa, to help the paysans develop agroecology, a techniques that is suitable for those region and will free the people towards multinational firms and exportation logiques and coercition. (more info about agroecology in Africa can be found here.

Pierre Rabhi founded multiple associations, including the Colibri, that helps citizen to retake possession of their territories through ecological and anti-globalist initiatives (school with cooperative pedagogy, urban farm, local money among others). To know more about it, you can visit the website (in french).