Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Au Revoir Alternatiba

Ons avance, la Transition arrive!

From Geneva we took a shortcut along Lac Leman, enjoying the Alpenpanorama....


stayed in Aubonne with the chickens where we met a funny baker, couldn't afford a cup of coffee, ate pasta for five days in a row and bought the most expensive courgette ever. On our way up to the Col du Marchairuz we ran out of water and had to ask for some in a farm that had no water access but kindly gave us some of their bottled water and told us they had had snow up over the roof the last winter. We saw more flash expensive silly cars than we ever saw in our whole entire lives, overtaking us one after the other to go for a nice lunch at the top. Or were they all sick of eating pasta and were off to the biggest Bio Co-op in France in little Pontarlier to buy some inexpensive quality food?

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Well that's what we did once we arrived in the beautiful Valle de Joux. We felt like rich barons in the local supermarket... Unfortunately it was Sunday, the clock makers were all shut and we couldn't stock up on precision time keeping instruments.

From then it was down hill! Jippieeeee! Luckily there were no roller skaters about.

We stayed by the source of the river Doubs, in Mouthe where we felt cold for the first time this summer! And then we found out it gets really hot and really cold here!
 Cold  hot

On the way to Besancon we stumbled across this traveling cinema. We couldn't stay anyway but it would have been a very hot evening of films in the tiny little tent...

The cows were cooling down... yes, it is hot again!

After a nice rest in Besancon we rolled on, rejoined  Le Tour Alternatiba and stopped in Baume les Dames, where we met some old and some new friends, enjoyed a shared meal in the town square where the weekly evening of entertainment was taking its course, Zumba, beer and sausages... la belle vie!

We rested the night in the beautiful garden of the Cafe Associative Gaia - merci!

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We are back in the beautiful valley of the river Doubs, endless cycle highways, rolling green hills either side we know it is easy cycling now... until dang ding daaah... ping! ping! ... ping! ...... ping! four spokes brake on Kevins temporary rear wheel and we have to push to the next train station to take the train to Mulhouse, where we spend the next five hours trying to bodge some wheel together out of the old spokes we have, it is Sunday of course and even though there are at least two bicycle associations at the fabulous Alternatiba Mulhouse event, none of them have any spokes with them or live close enough to bring us one of their hundreds of wheels that apparently fill their basements.
We managed to get the wheel back into some kind of shape and rode very carefully to Freiburg, where we bought some new spokes and fixed the temporary wheel again.
We just about made it to Strasbourg, our last etape with Le Tour Alternatiba!
We enjoyed our last Velorution, our last Alternatiba event and went to hug everybody goodbye the next day.
Then we took the train for a quick visit to Augsburg, to visit sisters new baby and where the new rim for Kevins wheel was waiting. We visited the Grandhotel Cosmopolis Peace Conference, a summer camp in the middle of the city... with a pedal powered solar shower!!

Back in Strasbourg we played our show in Xaviers garden to say thank you to the neighbours for storing our bikes during our little visit...
... and then it was time to pack our bikes and get back on the road. Just the two of us again, no more Tour Alternatiba...
We miss you! So much positivity! We think of you, the nice times we had together and the many kilometers and many events you still have ahead of you! And we wish you lots of strength to make it to the end!

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Now it is only a couple more days for les Alternabistas. After 5600 km in the saddle, 187 stages, 6 countries visited Le Tour Alternatiba will arrive in Paris to a massive welcome of thousands of cyclists and a whopping event!
Allez! Allez!
We wish we were there!

Here a little link to the official Alternatiba Song, featuring some of the heroes of this years full and fun and hurting and loving, fantastic Alternatiba summer!

While we cycle along, the country side keeps sending us little reminders of Le Tour Alternatiba....

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Saturday, 5 September 2015

The heat is on in Le Drome - next stop Geneva

After our little refreshing, artistic, theatrical interlude and a few more ploofs in the river we rejoin Le Tour Alternatiba in Crest, still by the river Drome.

In le Drome we encountered a thriving community of small scale organic farmers. At the Alternatiba Crest event we met La Confederation Paysanne. It is very refreshing to be in a country were the term peasant isn't an insult but rather a much valued, positive expression of a better way of life.... La vie est belle! We had a very tasty repas partage and we swapped recipes for summer fruits.
Le monde n'est pas une marchandise! The world is not a commodity!

Also in Crest, of course yet more cycling associations in action...

And we met Franz, who let us park our bikes in his garage, which is the H.Q. for the newly forming cargo bike revolution in Le Drome.
Cargo bikes in le Drome

After Crest it was on to Valence, again they have an active cycling community: Roulons en Ville a Velo  
And it is here where we first met the legendary Velomnibus, a 12 seater bicycle which struggeled a bit on the long Velorution out of town to the Industrial estate of Port Valence. We met it again in Grenoble, officially the flattest city in France. And here it was flying through the Streets in a carnival atmosphere! 

With a friendly man who was promoting the new local currency of Valence and who was collecting notes from other local currencies we exchanged our one Euro's worth of some local Breton currancy that we have been driving around with us for two years now, for some directions to the house where we were staying.

We met a little team of very enthusiastic and inspiring people who were working on the very first edition of  a little festival called Les Decroissants de Thune, a festival of Decroissance in Le Drome.
Les Decroissants de Thune

We had a very positive, enjoyable and encouraging time in Le Drome.
We believe that Decroissance offers definite, positive actions that we can all take in a world full of depressing, messy problems, be they economic, social, environmental, etc...

Degrowth alternatives are flourishing as the present economy falls into ever more and more crises. These alternatives include food production in urban gardens; co-housing and ecocommunes; alternative food networks, producer-consumer cooperatives, and communal kitchens; health care, elder care, and child care cooperatives; open software; and decentralized forms of renewable energy production and distribution. These alternatives are often accompanied, or even supported, by new forms of exchange such as community currencies, barter markets, time banks, financial cooperatives, and ethical banks.

Le Tour Alternatiba actively promotes the following... 
Peasant agriculture, responsible consumption, local small is beautiful economics, relocation of the economy, job sharing and wealth, social and ecological conversion of production, ethical finance, defense of common goods such as water, land or forests, fisheries sustainable food sovereignty, solidarity and sharing, repair and recycling, waste reduction, soft transport and sustainable mobility, eco-renovation, the fight against urban sprawl and artificial soil, sustainable land use, land preservation efforts, agricultural, defense of biodiversity, sobriety and energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy shift climate plans, transition towns, environmental awareness, etc. :

Alternatives exist, they only need to be strengthened and developed, multiplied!

There is an alternative, and it is called “degrowth.”

We support the aims of Le Tour Alternatiba and this is why we decided to cycle with them. We have been finding it very positive, uplifting and hopefull to be with them and to be meeting more and more people every day who are living these alternatives.
Another world really is possible and is beginning to take shape!

On our way to Grenoble we didn't want to venture into the mountains, so we left the Tour for a day, to stay along the river Isere in Saint Marcellin with a couple who felt they were doing so little to play their part in changing the world. We think they are doing a lot! In their 'normal' world they chose to live next to the trainstation so they don't need a car to commute, they don't fly to their holiday destinations and the best thing is they kept a traditional Cobbler shop alive and thriving in the heart of Grenoble. Le pettit cordonniere! If only more people knew how to value their things and realise that keeping and repairing a good, comfortable shoe ( in this example ) is in most cases the better choice.
Repairing and reusing things lies at the heart of  decroissance! We need more cordonnieres of all trades and colors!
Remember your three R's ? Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! We want to add two more: Refuse and Repair!
Sitting there in the park with the animals, nestled in the valley of the Isere, at the foot of the Plateau du Vercors and the Chartreuse we felt like we were having a picnic in paradise.

One of our favorite songs that we have been playing on the daily velorutions with Le Tour Alternatiba is shouting out for our paradise called Mother Earth.
"Mamá Tierra" - Macaco & Natalia Lafourcade 
Enjoy and shout it out!

In Grenoble we finally met Un p'tit Velo dans la Tete. We first made contact with them six years ago, when we were still in our baby shoes as Velorutionairies.

At the Alternatiba event in Grenoble, in a big city park,we had perfect conditions for a cinema. A hot summers evening, a park with dark corners to hide in and so we finally did our pedal powered cinema and showed some short bicycle films.

On  the way from Grenoble to Chambery we collected some giant activity evidence...
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We stopped for lunch by a lake, not far from a village  that is not happy at all about the Lyon to Turin highspeed railway line that has been planned for donkies years and would destroy their village and surrounding nature. Here is the place where a massive tunnel would come out....

At the lake people told us a bout a group who was going to arrive that evening, 200 people walking the whole leangth of the proposed line, in protest against it. The Vogons must be stopped!
Here is a link with some more info about this grand projet inutile et impose

From the lake a great big crowed cycled with us the last 12km to Chambery. For us it was the most fun and festive Velorution so far during our time with Alternatiba...
And then the next day it carried on in the same carnevalesque style all the way to Aix les Bains...

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There was even cargo bikes on the velorution!The Bullit went all the way from Chambery to Geneva!
Transportons mieux et moins!
Here a fabulous read on the news in the kargo bike velorution....    

And we got given an Elephant! Well one Elef, the local money of Chambery. So we got our Euro back that we traded in Valence!

And in Aix-les Bains we finally did our show for the Alternatiba crew.

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Then we thought we would be clever and take the route along the river again instead of going to Annecy with Alternatiba. It was just as hilly and hot. After a hot and hotter day on which we had to stop every five minutes to jump into the lake we arrived tired and bothered, three hours late at our hosts house at the top of the mountain. Even though they had given up on us they still had food waiting for us and we had a nice and cosy bed, so we soon forgot about the tortoures of the day.

It didn't get any easier the next day. More mountains, more sun, more heat on the way to Geneva. By the time we arrived in the scorching industrial estate to meet the Alternatiba it was 42 degrees Celcius and we thought we had missed them. But but we met one other lonely, local cyclist with a mobile phone, hurried up like our little friend from La Rustine on the penny farthing below and caught up with the velorution.

There was another Velomnibus, this one much faster and lighter and with a big honking horn.
When we arrived at the square in front of the United Nations, the complete velorution cycled straight into the fountains to cool down.

Then, refreshed we joined the big gathering of campesinos, native indians and africans to call for an end to corporate power and impunity.

In 2008 a group of highly respected economists and scientists led by Pavan Sukhdev, then a senior Deutsche Bank economist, conducted an authoritative economic analysis of the value of biodiversity. Their conclusion? The cost of the business activities of the world's 3,000 largest corporations in loss or damage to nature and the environment now stands at $2.2tn per year. And rising. These costs will have to be paid for in the future. By your children and your grandchildren. To quote Sukhdev: "The rules of business urgently need to be changed, so corporations compete on the basis of innovation, resource conservation and satisfaction of multiple stakeholder demands, rather than on the basis of who is most effective in influencing government regulation, avoiding taxes and obtaining subsidies for harmful activities to maximise the return for shareholders."

The sheep agree: Another world is possible and necessarry!