THE FOURTH POINT
The River Brue Rehabilitation Board, Glastonbury 2019 to 2021,
A5 paperback, 297 pages
This is the fourth of four books about or related to The River Brue
Local edition, looking for feedback, published June 2022.
Revised edition published March 2023.
Special price for copies bought from this website £10.00
Loved reading this book which is radical, thought-provoking and funny. Decades of ecological activism has led many to come to the unpalatable conclusion that we are too late to change the consequences of environmental destruction. It has all gone too far to turn back and there is no sign of any serious engagement from the corporations who couyld really make a difference.
What to do in this situation? Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, a Sufi teacher, came up with a four point plan in reaction to this grim outlook. Firstly, Witnessing the ongoing man-made catastrophe; secondly, Grieving; thirdly, Prayer; and lastly, Action. The Fourth Point.
But the Action cannot be based on the same paradigm that has created the destruction. Already, we have seen that this only leads to more mass production and therefore further consumption of resources. Market opportunities that are no different to what came before. And often misguided.
Remember how the government recommended everyone to buy diesel cars, only to see particulate pollution rise, not only in cities but throughout the country? Then the answer is electric cars, only to see the expansion of mining for lithium and other metals and the continuation of more and more production and consumption. More is just not the solution. Increase in GDP is not the solution.
The book explores some of the possible actions offered by various writers, but the key focus is the River Brue and the lost wetlands. This has been Bruce’s own passion and was the reason behind the River Brue Rehabilitation Board, an office facing out onto St Johns Car Park that looked more official than it really was. Official enough for some enquirng civil servants to drop by, as well as many others.
The book offers up a perfect slice of Glastonbury life, disrupted by Covid lockdowns. There is a panoply of Glastonbury characters, as well as climate actvist meetings, wild stories from the 1970s seen through the lens of Brazilian writer Antonio Bivar, the sacred landscape of the 12 Hides of Glastonbury, Five Rhythms dance; and above all connection to the river.
This book is packed with ideas, stories and visions, and is highly recommended.
The Oracle magazine, Glastonbury, July 2022
THE FOURTH POINT
The title is to do with Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee’s Four Point Plan. What can we do about the state of the world? We can do whatever grows out of following the first three points, which are Witnessing, Grieving, and Prayer. The details will be different and particular for each one of us. If we listen to the Earth until She tells us what it is for us to do, then the Earth can organise her own healing. She does, after all, know better than us.
This book does not have the answer. I can only describe my own personal journey to a place where I think I can just about make out what I can do myself. It’s not what I expected. I hope I’ve got it right. I began by making friends with the River Brue in Somerset. Now, I could assume that I know what I’m talking about, go back to the beginning, and write a handbook describing what to do and how to do it. But life is not like working from a handbook. It’s much more of a jumble.
So this is more or less how it’s happened so far, or what I think are the most important and interesting bits. And since I have this strange compulsion to write things down and turn them into stories, I’ve made it into a book. I’ve even included an index. This is my fourth book about the River Brue and related matters; this is the Fourth Point – at least, it’s my understanding of it. Now it’s over to you.
Extract: The Storm
I can remember back in the 1990s, thinking about humanity reaching a crossroad, and one way would mean creating a whole new way of life, the other would mean continuing the way things were – and eventual disaster. It would be easy now to believe that the wrong choice had been made twenty years ago, and that may be the case. But reading and listening to indigenous writers and speakers, I find that they are hopeful.
Sherri Mitchell, for instance, writes of that crossroad, where we can “travel together into a higher way of being or plummet back into the darkness.” She describes it as a place of initiation, where “We are on the precipice of an evolutionary leap.” So I conclude that there will be another chance, but it will be hard. Twenty years ago it could have been much easier, but we missed that one.
I think it will mean leaving the road altogether and, figuratively speaking, finding our way through swamps, over mountains and across deserts, before we are able to get ourselves back on track. Since I am getting on towards seventy it’s unlikely that I shall make it myself; though I may be one of those who shout out stop, when enough people are ready at last to listen, and who point out the difficult but necessary way across wide and dangerous country.Thinking of rewilding the river, it could have been much easier but it looks like being forced upon us now.
I have an image of people arriving at Glastonbury Tor, after a long and arduous journey. The relief is overwhelming but the temperature is rising, as are the waters. The biggest thunderstorm ever experienced in Somerset has overtopped the flood prevention dam above Bruton. The dam has collapsed and the centre of Bruton has filled with water in just a matter of minutes. A few have escaped in canoes, from the outward bound centre on the edge of the town.
The deluge is washed quickly downstream, widening and taking everything with it. The river has burst its banks and the fields around are deeply under water. From the slopes of the Tor we can see the people in canoes; one has capsized, another spins round in circles as the waters continue not west towards Highbridge but, taking the naturally lower route northwards, sweep around the end of Wearyall Hill and past Bride’s Mound. The canoists somehow steady themselves though they have no choice but to ride out the flood as best as they can manage.
I am in one of the canoes now … the river flowing with full power around Glastonbury and north towards the Axe valley. Beyond Godney we reach the top of the rapids that take us down into Perry Lake. The lake has long been forgotten, but now it’s returned with sudden and overwhelming vigour. We line ourselves up with the V-shape that we can see in the surface movement of the water. Releasing ourselves to the rapids, speeding, wet and shining, we go into the lake and head towards the opposite bank, slowing sufficiently to steer ourselves back out into the current … as the lake becomes wider and takes us through the Panborough-Bleadney gap and then, in a growing crescendo, we join the river Axe and continue towards the sea …
1. The River and the Rehabilitation Board
2. Prequel: July to November 2019
3. More than just a Changing Climate
4. Opening Party
5. Seven Holy Islands
6. Christmas and Hogmanay 2019
7. Continents on Fire
8. The Deep Adaptation Agenda
9. Somerset on the Front Line
10. Awakening to your Life’s Purpose
11. Brown and Thick with Silt
12. A Great Grey Miasm
13. Crook Peak
15. Earth Day
16. Is this a Return to Some Kind of Normal?
17. Bivar, Caro
18. A Deep Dive into Spiritual Ecology
19. Coronavirus and Climate Breakdown
20. Wait until you Hear your Story like a Dream
21. Into the Unknown
23. Bring it Back to the River
24. Time to Slow Down and Listen
25. What’s Good for the Land is also Good for the People
26. Rewild the River Brue
27. The Storm