Introducing the custodian of the Rock Rubha Phoil

A film of our community from 2019

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What is Rubha Phoil?

Rubha Phoil is home for a small regenerative culture community and permaculture project. This is currently the primary project of Earth Ways CIC. Here, our community members and visitors will find opportunities to rest, heal and build resilience. Visitors leave Rubha Phoil with the knowledge and inspiration to use nature, permaculture and community to become a part of the solution. Permaculture is more than a sustainable option. At Rubha Phoil, we see permaculture as a system to live wholesomely and in abundance.

Here, the ethics of permaculture are woven into every aspect of the rock. These ethics are:

  • Earth Care: We preserve the soil, protect biodiversity, conserve energy and natural resources and keep the air and water clean.
  • People Care: We take care of ourselves and each other’s health and well-being through the nourishment of good food, lifelong learning, trust, respect and meaningful work.
  • Fair Share: We emphasize the equitable distribution of resources, networking, cooperation, and reduction of consumerism. This starts by rethinking notions of growth, progress and development. Fair Share also means honouring the people that came before us and preserving the planet for those who will come after us.

Polytunnel Permaculture design in PM magazine

Rubha Phoil is a physical rock and community as well as a virtual one. Learn more about our virtual village here!


Our Mission

Rubha Phoil is a nature-based regenerative culture community, where a small group of people of all ages can create and demonstrate a fulfilling and thriving existence on and from the land, while enhancing the ecosystem they live in.

Vision Statement

Our vision is to create a thriving, resilient and diverse community, a place of reconnection to nature and ourselves, and to model and teach permaculture and community building.

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Meet the Founder

Where I come from

Ludwig Appeltans, Founder of Earth Ways Regenerative Culture EnterpriseWhen I learned about the biodiversity crisis and climate change as a child, I became obsessed with finding the solution. When I found out that trees produce the oxygen we breathe, I convinced my parents to plant an oak tree in the garden. I was constantly searching for solutions and learning new things that would be useful in the challenged future we now face. At this young age, I was sure that I wanted to be part of the solution, but I did not yet know how my own mind and my life’s journey would become valuable resources in this mission.

I was eight years-old when I realized that I was different from other people. I viewed adults as people unaware that they were playing out characters. I now understand that they created these characters to cope with unhealed childhood traumas. To me at the time, it seemed that this was what growing up was all about. I decided that I didn’t want that to happen to me, so I decided to never grow up and rebelled throughout my childhood. For the traumas I experienced in the school system, I found healing through Mother Nature. I’m happy to say that my inner child is still alive to this day. 

Oak tree from Ludwig's childhood garden
The Oak Tree that I convinced my parents to plant as a child is still alive and producing oxygen in their garden today.

Through reflection, research and peer advice, I have self-diagnosed to have a mild form of Autism. This diagnosis used to be referred to as Aspergers, but is now more commonly known as Autism, ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), or Neurodivergence. It’s tricky to get a diagnosis as an adult, as the waiting list is years long. Understanding this difference in my brain has become my primary tool in the search for solutions to the climate crisis.

Though living with autism in this current society is deeply challenging and limiting, it’s not a disability in itself. In many ways, my autism is a gift. Neurodiversity is nature’s diversity in action and diversity is essential to any healthy system. I worked hard on adapting to my challenges. Neurotypical babies learn social norms through imitation, and their reactions to social situations are stored in the subconscious. Rather than socializing through subconscious cues, I have had to learn the art of social interaction through conscious understanding. I have self-studied psychology for over 20 years and specialized in observing human behaviour. I understand and operate on the level of non-verbal communication. Neurotypical people often make quick judgements of others based on their clothes, accents, social status, etc. These things give me information too, but I draw different conclusions. My brain may see an interesting story. This gift helps me understand and connect to people on an unusually deep level.

As a conscious communicator, I also can’t help but notice and act upon manipulation and dishonesty. My desire to be a part of the climate solution, my impulsive honesty and my disregard for popularity has conjured a career in activism. You can see more on this part of my life, here.

During my time as an activist, I separated myself from western culture. I went to live in the forest for four years. This extended time as a hermit in nature was an opportunity to understand my own conditioning through Western Culture. This unique perspective was the key to decolonizing myself and breaking free of conditioning. The forest is rich with wisdom, but you have to connect with it to learn from it. The treasure of skills and experiences I had there enabled me to create a connecting culture and regenerative culture in myself and in my surroundings. My personal liberation is the framework from which I help others shed their conditioning of Western Culture. I have developed a technique called “echo location” for this very purpose.

Where I’m going

My autism and my time in the forest are the two main elements in my identity and the force that drives my work today. Permaculture is about conscious design through knowledge of the environment, finding patterns, and making connections. Spending four years in the forest provided me with a wealth of information about the Scottish ecosystem, and my neurodivergent mind is my key to spotting patterns and making connections.

The ability to read patterns and relationships really well is a common trait in people on the Autism Spectrum. This is why neurodivergence is such an asset to the Permaculture Design network. This ability leads to a deep understanding of how nature works, predicting cause and effect, efficiently reducing leaks, and increasing yields. These are all key to creating what we in the Permaculture community call “The Spiral of Abundance”.

As a kid, I mainly studied fortress building, native cultures and the classic heroes tales. Once I was old enough to make my own decisions, I walked a journey through all the elements I deemed essential to creating solutions to climate change. The solution I found? 

The creation of a regenerative culture to overturn the present disconnecting culture.

I began researching every aspect of what a regenerative culture would take to create and have connected with a rich network of experts in their fields to continue to learn in our ever-changing world. These are just a few of those aspects:

⋅ permaculture growing ⋅ forest gardening ⋅ permaculture design ⋅   psychology ⋅ trauma healing ⋅ spirituality ⋅ peace making ⋅ healthy sexuality ⋅ simple technology life hacks ⋅ culture ⋅ community ⋅ democracy ⋅ activism ⋅ education ⋅ land management ⋅ survival skills ⋅ nature connection ⋅ mental health ⋅ physical health ⋅ well-being ⋅ circular economy ⋅ nutrition ⋅ grief-healing ⋅ symbiotic relationships

My high-functioning autistic mind has consciously trained me into being fully aware of the culture of interaction between people. This awareness helps me orchestrate a connecting culture. My design, combined with the model created by Jon Young and the 8-Shields Institute have made Rubha Phoil into a place of connection, teamwork and growth for the members, volunteers and tourists that walk our paths and meet together at The Hearth (the heart and literal fire of Rubha Phoil). Our mission aims to help us and future generations achieve The 8 Attributes of Connection:

Display of the 8 attributes of connection by Jon young
The eight attributes of connection as designed by Jon Young and the 8-shields institute

 

As part of this mission, I have created a model of communication with Heart Stones. This model works really well for my autism, but I recommend it for neurotypical and autistic people alike. You can learn more about Heart Stones here. If you work with me, I ask that you please use clear language in our communications. The idea that autistic people do not experience empathy is a myth. Rather, we express ourselves differently than neurotypical people are accustomed to, so it sometimes throws them off. Through clear communication and understanding, I connect deeply. You can do the same!

I have always had an affinity for nature. Nature makes more sense to my brain than social interactions, so I chose to grow that connection. Over the years, this has come in the form of playing in the rain as a child, being a scout master in my late teens, organizing survival expeditions for kids in care in my early twenties, and living entirely off-grid in a Scottish woodland for four years with just a self-made shelter and wood burning stove. These experiences have trained me to hone natural skills and make me the person I am today. I learned to read my ecosystem and live in harmony with it, unlearned conditioning from Colonial Culture, and retrained my brain to unleash my full potential.

I am a village builder, a teacher, a designer for a resilient future, a warrior for peace and justice, a steward of the Earth, but most of all, a mentor to help people connect with themselves, others, and nature.

-Ludwig Appeltans

Learn more about Autism

The Aspergers on the Inside Youtube Channel

TED talk by Elisabeth Wiklander: Neurodiversity – the key that unlocked my world

Other famous Autistic Activists and Nature Lovers: Chris Packham, Greta Thunberg, Dara McAnulty

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Where is Our Sacred, Ancient Rock?

Arial photo of Rubha Phoil and Armadale Ferry Port
Rubha Phoil and the Ferry Port of Armadale.

Rubha Phoil is an ancient rock connected to the shores of the Isle of Skye, off the West Coast of Scotland. The rock itself is some of the oldest rock on our planet. Since its formation, Rubha Phoil has tumbled its way through history picking up tales of its geographical past and human evolution alike. Historians, geologists, and inhabitants have been picking up clues and carefully documenting the history of this rock. Discover the timeline of the history of Rubha Phoil here!


Get Involved

Visiting and Learning

We offer online and in-person talks, workshops and courses for individuals or for groups. Visitors are welcome at Rubha Phoil to walk the paths and camp or stay in one of our dwellings on-site. There will be opportunities to see permaculture in action, as well as pay or volunteer in exchange for informative talks with staff about;

⋅ forest gardening ⋅ permaculture ⋅ regenerative culture design ⋅ bushcraft ⋅ survival ⋅ nature connection ⋅ 

You can find testimonies from former students, clients and other people I have inspired here.

It is good to know that you need to Join the Virtual Village to trade with Rubha Phoil. We want to pioneer a local economy and we accept payment in Rubha Rocks only. You can invest in Rubha Rocks by exchanging your £’s to Rubha Rocks or earn them on the Village. You can learn more here.

Work exchange

Rubha Phoil is always looking for people to come and help out, to stay on the Rock short or long term. Food and accommodation is provided at a rate of 40RR (Rubha Rocks) per day. You can earn Rubha Rocks or exchange them for £’s. Depending on the technical level of the task, this day rate equates about four hours of work per day. Accommodation comes in the form of caravans or huts. The meals at Rubha Phoil are vegan with an emphasis on sustainable sourcing and foraging. You will be asked to cook sometimes, as cooking responsibility rotates through the team.

Click here to read more and to apply for a work exchange!

Living Long-Term

We would love to add members to our community that are looking for a long-term home. There’s a lot to learn about permaculture and it works best when the caretakers really know the land. This knowledge comes with time. Communities also need children. We are opening a home complete with wood-fire stove to a family that is interested in being a part of our community and project. If this is you, please get in touch!

House for family
Learn more about the house available to rent here!

Click here to read more and to apply to join or a visit!

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Rubha Phoil and Ludwig in the Media

Ludwig Arrested for non-violent peace activism

With a small group of activists, Ludwig was entering Prestwick Airport and searching a US Air-force plane for evidence of breaches of international law war crimes during the attack by Israel against The Lebanon in 2006. Bunker Buster bombs were killing scores of women and children hiding from the violence in places they thought were safe.  The corporation involved lost their contract and Ludwig was acquitted. (read more here)

 

Protesting the invasion of Afghanistan

"Stop the War" banner during protest for the Mother Earth act

Ludwig and associates dropped a banner on the Belfort in Gent, Belgium to make a stand against the invasion of Afghanistan. (read more here)

Jail-Time for non-violent peace activism

As a member of Trident Ploughshares, Ludwig was arrested many times (too many times to remember) for taking action against the Trident Nuclear War System. Ludwig won most court cases but lost twice. Both time he refused to pay the fines and instead went to prison Once for a week and once for 28 days.

During the trial, Sheriff Smith calls Ludwig a parasite.“I look upon you so-called peace protesters as parasites, causing untold damage to fences, disrupting the base and wasting this country’s money which could be spent elsewhere.” -Sheriff Smith

Two people holding each other at a protest

Closing the North Gate at Faslane

In another act of protest, Ludwig managed to close the North Gate at Faslane Nuclear Base by finding and exploiting a chink in the armour: lamp posts.

click image to view 

Newspaper article about Ludwig closing the gate at Faslane

Schnews Makes a Short Film about Ludwig’s Occupation of a Mast

Ludwig and his associate occupy a 150ft high communication mast at a secret military fuel base at Padworth Common, Berkshire. “Their aim was to expose the storage and distribution hub which supplies the U.S. bases in the UK including refuelling B52 Bombers in mid-air, on their way to Iraq.” -Schnews

Inspired Times Article about Ludwig’s Time Living in the Forest, Autumn 2011

Article about Ludwig living off grid

Flemish Newspaper Writes a Story of Ludwig’s Life, 2015

Het Belang van Limburg, a mainstream Flemish newspaper tells Ludwigs journey, from his time in the woods, to his permaculture ventures.

Flemish Newspaper Article about Ludwig's Projects

Ludwig and Suzanne de Waard Publish an Article on sustainable polytunnels

In this article, Ludwig and Suzanne explain how to make your own permaculture poly-tunnel.

Lisa, a long term team member is interviewed by the Telegraph.

Click on the image to read the article

Ludwigs Article on “Dealing with Slugs in a Permaculture Garden” is Published, 2012

Ludwig has written and regularly updates his article on garden slugs on this website, here. Over time, this article, in its various forms, has been published by Permaculture Magazine, The Guardian, and lowimpact.org.

Short Film about Ludwig’s Mission

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Certificates and Acknowledgments

Roman-Inspired Studies Graduate in Ortho-Pedagogy (special needs education) 

Permaculture Designer Certificate, 2009 (from Patrick Whitefield)

Participant and Staff Member of Art of Mentoring and the 8-Shields Institute, 2009 

Completion of “Permaculture Training of Teachers”, 2010 (from Designed Visions)

Graduating class of Permaculture teachers including Ludwig

Former Certified Educator of Permaculture (Permaculture Association of Britain)

Permaculture Design and Nature Awareness Course Creator and Teacher, 2011-2022

(https://www.permaculture.org.uk/education/Certifying-Teachers-Register)

Certified Macrobiotic Health Coach, 2011 (with William Tara & Marlene Watson-Tara)

Ludwig's Macrobiotic Health Coach Certificate

Designed and created a permaculture farm near Forres, 2012 – 2016

Created the Community Interest Company “Earth Ways”, 2013 – 2022 (https://earth-ways.com)

Rubha Phoil Recognized as a Permaculture ScotLAND Centre

Ludwig's ScotLAND Centre Certificate

Rubha Phoil has withdrawn from the ScotLAND Permaculture Association for ethical reasons, 2021 (read more here)

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