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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Thursday, June 17, 2004
    Eden and afterwards
    Last day in St Ives today and I've finally been to church - shared a modest eucharist in the tiny chapel of St Nicholas on the 'island' outcrop at the tip of the little peninsular here. This is just as well as my two Sundays here were taken up at (a) The Tate and (b) The Eden Project.

    I guess there's been so much written about Eden that I needn't go on - but it is very good. A phenomenal site with quite a modest aim - to help people realise just how big a part plants play in our lives; certainly got me thinking about that. But of course that spins off into all sorts of wider areas - environmental, political, philosophical ... and reading Tim Smit's book about the project is a great stimulant in all these areas.

    The Eden Foundation is keeping that stimulation going by "encouraging and undertaking research into cross-cutting issues, promoting innovation and acting as a catalyst for positive change; opening doors for dialogue - providing a hub for organisations, businesses, students and individuals to meet and communicate - an international network for those who want to work together to realise a sustainable future" - as well as playing a role in the economic and social regeneration of Cornwall, rooting all this global thinking in a very real present community.

    One of the most impressive things about Eden is the way it brought together people from all sorts of disciplines - artists, city bankers, constructors, botanists, architects, dramatists, civil servants, engineers, and formed a team which really gelled. One fine idea Smit muses over is that of using the Eden umbrella to convene a forum of people from all sorts of walks of life which would meet periodically to discuss, in depth, major issues of our time, a rare opportunity which Smit is very capable of pulling off.

    If he does, I wonder if he'll invite Julian Cope along? As always on my travels he's been a companion on the cd and with his gazetteer on ancient sites; in yesterday's Guardian he breaks my implied criticism of him from the other day by making it clear he's no fundamentalist when it comes to preserving ancient stones. I'm doing this from memory as St Ives' Library computer system won't let me read Cope's interview online (must contain the odd expletive), but in it he waxes on about how people are still very keen on celebrating the landscape and our place in it and how good it would be if we thought more about creating new megaliths for our times. He considers The Angel of the North as one such example.

    How right - which is one reason why it's been good to have been here among Barbara Hepworth's sculptures, echoing back the ancient stones on this peninsular, and to have been to Eden which is itself a megalith, a monument, a structure to which we flock for celebration, a place of education and inspiration, and a focal point for hoping and dreaming about the future.