THE BIG INTERVIEW: Compost campaigner just likes getting her hands mucky
Updated 11:17am Monday 20th January 2014 in By Barrie Hudson
“I LIKE low-tech solutions,” said Talis Kimberley.
“I’m not an engineer and I’m not a techie. I like getting my hands mucky. I like handing over boxes of collected jam jars to a person who’s going to use them for chutney.
“I had the experience of coming to this community as a stranger and finding it welcoming, non-cliquey, and full of local community enterprises which welcomed me with open arms, and where I could go out and say good evening to every stranger in the street.
“I had that experience, threw myself into local things and found out this is what a community is.
“I hadn’t been here a week when somebody put a poly bag of broad beans on the doorstep because they had a glut at their allotment.”
The Compost Buddies scheme came about because of her low-tech approach and her bewilderment at charges being levied to take away green waste.
“To charge people to do the right thing is so retrograde, so shortsighted. I think a much better way of looking at it would be so ask how we can encourage people to do this at home.
“What a funny word ‘waste’ is. It means it’s useful but it’s not being used. It means an opportunity has been squandered. Green waste is precisely that if we put it somewhere where it can’t be put back into the soil.
“People composting or getting neighbours to compost is such an obvious low-hanging fruit baseline no-brainer that it makes me furious and frustrated that we’re having to do this rather than the council taking responsibility for it themselves.”
Talis is a professional singer-songwriter, a committed recycler of all things recyclable, a passionate gardener, a would-be Green Party councillor and a native of Bristol. Her dad was a civil servant and her mum a dancer.
“I lived there all my life until eight years ago when – following my husband’s job – we moved wholesale over here to Wroughton.
“I’d say it was a wrench but it rapidly became one of the best things we had done. I love that I can’t go out of my front door without bumping into somebody I know.”
It was after the move to Wroughton that Talis’s passion for gardening, previously frustrated by circumstance, could be indulged.
“We realised that we could have a house with a garden big enough to grow things in. The house we lived in in Bristol had a small, overshadowed garden that was only good for elderberries and spiders.
“I’ve always had an awareness of the fact that finite resources are finite. I’ve always had a fondness for and a personal level of comfort with making and mending and creating and doing.”
After leaving school, Talis worked in a variety of places including a builders’ merchant’s, an insurance firm and a law office which handled Legal Aid cases including family and criminal law.
Since childhood, though, she had wanted to be a singer and writer, and never lost sight of her ambition. She turned professional many years ago.
“I’ve pretty much always written songs. The software in my brain is such that when things appear to me they take shape in song form. I write songs about them.
“When I was in my twenties I did my share of angsty female songs – how I felt about this and that. I got that out of my system.
“But perhaps 10 years ago my songwriting shifted. I started writing about things outside me. I started writing about global matters. I‘ve been performing for 20 years or more. There have been three studio albums, one live one with my band and another in the process. I perform solo and with my band around the country and overseas.”
One of the first friends she made after the move to Wroughton was parish councillor Ann Richards, now a Liberal Democrat borough councillor for Wroughton and Wichelstowe.
Talis was soon co-opted to the parish council and later elected, serving until a couple of years ago.
Her parish council role was non-political, but Talis has since joined the Green Party, saying she agrees with 90 or 95 percent of its views. Talis is the party’s local candidate in the forthcoming borough council elections.
She rejects what she sees as a perception that politics is for politicians or people who are somehow special.
“That’s really, really sad because I think local government at every level is just about people who give a damn about their community and are willing to learn, ask questions, speak out and get people involved.”
Her philosophy is one of what she calls spiralling to a consensus.
“Rather than saying ‘This is a bad idea, let’s not do it,’ you have to be able to say: ‘Here’s a better idea.’”
Talis’s website is www.talis.net, and Compost Buddies has a Facebook presence.
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