Meet the ‘Finding Our Way’ team

Rachel Geary: Teacher, facilitator

I am a practicing acupuncturist and have been running my own multi-bed clinic in Torbay for the last fourteen years. This has given me first-hand experience of the rich diversity of talent and potential held within my local community as well as the challenges of harnessing it.

I have also been practicing meditation in the Buddhist tradition since 1995. Buddhism and Chinese Medicine have been instrumental in shaping and deepening my understanding of the natural cycles and intricacies of the living world, lessons that I personally try to integrate into the way I live my life. This desire to ‘Be the change’ led to my decision to study Sustainability and Behavior Change at CAT and to develop this into the shared journey of exploration that has manifested in this course.

Rosie Trevillion: Teacher, facilitator

I have recently completed an MSc in Sustainability and Behaviour Change at the Centre for Alternative Technology. I have a varied background, ranging from working as a frontline NHS paramedic, youth drug and alcohol rehabilitation, climate change community engagement, and 22 years practicing mindfulness and compassion. I’ve organised medical camps in remote villages in India with no road access, and lived and worked on an off-grid, non-mechanised community food project in Ecuador. I am now co-founding a tech company to help solve the issue of women’s safety on public transport and hoping to revolutionise current perceptions and therefore up-take of public transport.
Such life experiences have forged a deep love and care for this marvel of a planet and all the being’s, human or otherwise that we share it with. 

Being a part of this course will be a learning journey for me too, I do not purport to be a teacher, firmly placing myself in the position of fellow participant / facilitator, as I know it is only together that we can grow resilience.

Daryl Geary: Facilitator, cook, webmaster

Rachel & I met in 2009 and were married soon after. Of that time, I remember: living in engagement bliss, the planning of our wedding, seeing all our families and friends, the wedding, and the amazing two-week honeymoon in the Scottish highlands, before, reality struck! The 2008 recession had hit the construction industry hard and my modular building system was floundering. I was in for three years of effort and over 10K of debt. During my time in London I learnt the art of marketing, & before I met Rachel I thought the only way I could earn real money was to carry on inventing idea’s, with the obligatory trips to venture capitalists to finance them. I’d been down that road so many times before, it was all I knew.

With the honeymoon over, winter setting in and debt mounting, we needed to make a plan …

Rachel had discovered permaculture some years previously. Permaculture, is the name coined by Phil Morrison back in the 70s, which basically means permanent agriculture. Permaculture looks at nature’s evolution for guidance. With a set of principles at hand, a design process, some zones to work with, a proven track record of 4.6 billion years and a wealth of knowledge, anything is possible! To Rachel this looked like the place to start to make a plan; I wasn’t convinced. To me is sounded like a bunch of hippies learning to live together in a field!

With the design book in hand Rachel wrote the following list;- what are our assets, what are our skills, what are our passions, what do we like doing for fun, who do we know, what are our overheads, where does all our money go, how much do we need?

Working in Zones
Zones can manage and order the spaces you go to often and/or, work within. Zones help make sense of where and why we go anywhere. Normally you would be working with five zones. As a simple example, if your house is zone one, then zone two could be your village/town. Zone three could be the area between your village/town and your work place, and zone four could be the areas of your county outside all these. Basically in this instance you would make all the areas you visit infrequently, beyond this, zone five. Using the design process and incorporate a couple of our favourite permaculture principles ‘observe and interact’ and ‘minimum effort maximum yield’ you plan ahead so that if you need to go to zone four, you only have to visit there once and accomplish as many tasks as possible. Zones can be used for lots of things, for example if you were to use the above scenario to plan for where you would like to be in five years time, then maybe your work place could be moved close, say to zone two, so it’s possible to walk; zone three gets visited once a month in your car and zone four becomes the rest of the UK, and zone five becomes everywhere else. This all sounds like common sense doesn’t it, well yes it does!

With our new-found permaculture design tools at hand, we embarked on creating a perfect sustainable life.

One of the cars was the first things to go; we kept the smaller more efficient one. We signed up to Pay plan. A free service which helps with managing debts and creditors, and we cancelled all the direct debits, so we controlled when we paid the bills, we took on two allotments and started planting. Oh, and we also brought half a pallet of dried food.

We crammed maximum efficiency into the use of the car, which use was mainly all on a Friday. Other use of the car was limited to only essentials like weekly visits to Rachel’s other acupuncture clinic’s, which she hired by the half or full day.

Here is a snippet of one of our average Friday’s;
Changeover day
Go to laundrette
Visits allotments
Gardening jobs
Visit tip
Cash & carry
Treat acupuncture clients
Collect manure

In Torquay, it seems everyone is either a builder, plumber or was some kind of tradesman. Everyone who could help me did help me. In an average week I could be a roofer, gardener, yacht rigger, decorator, labourer, designer, builder, driver; all this on top of the interior and retro fitter at home. In addition, Rachel had her own gardening round, budding mineral make-up upstart and acupuncture clients to contend with. We are all truly resourceful when we have to be.

I first came across a computer whilst in Sydney on my year’s working visa. I befriended two Aussies, one of which used a PC for number crunching, with dreams of taking the risk element of rising and falling stocks. I also read History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand  Russel, and The Ego and the ID by Sigmund Freud; an interesting bunch! Some years later Aussie Dave arrived with his UK working visa and lodged with me in London; along with his laptop. A shiny new Toshiba, with an orange screen. Its power and its limits were unfathomable. With modem connection to Australia over the telephone line; wow this was mind-blowing! Aussie Dave also introduced me to Corel Draw, a vector drawing program and soon after I purchased my very own PC. A brand new 386 with a massive 128 megabyte hard disk, windows, and even a tape drive to back it all up! I found a computer very useful as it corrected my spelling, it allowed me to be creative without the use of a writing implement, and I could store and retrieve my work from within a structured filing system.

Rachel’s acupuncture business needed a website, so I taught myself how to build one. Later I found ‘Website’s for Dummies’, and ‘Dreamweaver CS4 the missing manual’ which helped me with no end with this. With this new-found knowledge every business we started thereafter came with its own website.

We now have a two thriving business, our own office space (around the corner), and not only did we not lose the house, we have the money to look after it and do improvements when we want to. We have a little racing dinghy that means we can make the most of the beautiful coastline we live on. We eat like Kings with a diet that’s almost 100% organic, and we never go to a supermarket or buy anything from Primark.

I’m a curious person, and I learn by watching and doing. As a child and living in Torquay, we had students from all over the world living in our house. Mum was a good cook, but we were also very lucky to enjoy the specialities from our guests.

Torquay is a tourists’ destination with many hotels. Back then, as soon as you were thirteen, all the keen and able youth were duly employed as kitchen porters, waiters and such like. When I reached the age of fifteen, I had reached the dizzy heights of commie chef at two venues. Castle Grill in the centre of town run by a Greek family who taught me not to waste anything, and the renowned Island Inn Bistro run by the Matthew Brothers who then owned half of Torquay’s nightlife. There on a Sunday (the chef’s day off), I would regularly cook sixty covers. The menu included steaks, lobsters and flat fish.

My journey through life took me off to Europe and by chance I ended up in London. Here for over thirteen years or so worked in the licensed trade. Along the way I was introduced to the delights of fine wines, imported beers and food retail from far-flung places like Malaysia and Mexico. To give you a quick snippet, in the late 80s I worked for one of the most influential companies in the UK, the victualler Maison Caurette. Whilst employed there we pioneered the Texas Lone Star chain, and introduced Becks Beer, Sol Beer, Concha Toro, Siglo Saco, Tequila, and Havana Club rum to name but a few. Within that hubbub we also used new words like YAR and drove 3 Series BMW’s.

Looking back now, I see that by the time I reached adulthood, I quite well-travelled and had experiences a wealth of international cuisine along with the high life.

Now living back in my home town – sunny Torquay. I find I enjoy all the nice bits from the past, but at a much slower pace! My wife and I now seem to have a healthy work-life balance. We earn just enough money to support our lifestyle and also have plenty of time to explore the pursuits that make us happy.

We like meeting people, we like travelling, we like new challenges and I love cooking.