Earth Ways is a Regenerative Culture Enterprise, initiated by Ludwig in 2007.
“Only the extraordinary can save us”
About Ludwig Leòdhas Appeltans (Otter)
When I was 8, I realised that I was different than other people. I noticed that adults were essentially identifying with a ‘character’ and not aware of it. I decided I didn’t want to be like that and refused to grow up. Spoiler, I didn’t. I rebelled throughout my childhood and was deeply traumatised by the school system and … healed by Mother Nature. My inner child is still alive!
Now, present time, fast forward, many years later, I understand that adults had learned to play these roles as kids to cope with schooling and kept these characters alive to cope with life. Some experts call it the colonised mind.
I have since learned that I am Autistic. I am proudly neurodivergent.
Autism is basically a term coined by ‘normal’ people to classify a group of people who’s brain works differently. They call it a disorder as ‘only’ one in 40 people are autistic.
Autism in itself is not always a disability. Certain aspects can be much more challenging for us than for the average person but that in itself is not always a big deal.
What most of us autistic people experience as most disabling is how ‘normal’ society is not designed for people like us, how it treats us and is unable to understand us and how it pushes us out.
The most disabling thing for us is that typical people avoid interacting with us based on split second unconscious decisions. Many people feel, that part of their being that seeks for sameness in social interactions, aversion instead.
This issue has serious real life consequences for people with Autism and other neurodivergent people.
If you like what I do, but feel a dislike to my personality, this unconscious aversion you might feel for my difference, could be the cause of that dislike. I welcome anyone to contact me to have a chat and invite you to share how you feel with me in clear language. You might be missing out on a good friend.
A lot of people think that people with autism lack empathy. This is an incorrect ableist assumption.
This is our perspective instead:
I, and many autistic people like me, am hyper sensitive.
The core of the problem autistic people face is one of double empathy. Neuro typical people often can’t empathise with autistic people, because they don’t understand us and try to project their world onto us. Autistic people, me included, find it hard to understand typical people because what they do and the decisions they make are rarely logical by nature.
Katie Forbes from Aberdeen in her recent TEDx talk explains it very well.
To help bridge that gap of understanding created by the double empathy problem, I have created a model of communication, that works really well for me and helps everyone else to feel heard too. It is based on indigenous cultural elements, gifted to us by indigenous peoples. I recommend it to everyone, Neurotypical and Autistic people alike.
Please try to remember to not look at Autistic people as people who are worth less. We are just different.
If you want to work with me, to avoid confusion, I suggest and request to use clear language to tell me exactly what you want or need. Please don’t expect me to fill in the blanks.
If you want to understand me and other Autistic people better, I recommend
Autism on the Inside Youtube Channel.
This 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.
To list the uniqueness autism brings to my personality and my enterprise:
Diversity in nature is a positive asset. It drives evolution, adaptation to change and helps to prevent extinction. Doesn’t that sound like something we really need right now?
– I am not easily distracted by social static like chit chat, popularity contests, wealth or power games, or other social ‘games’ that most people play because I don’t intuitively feel the rules and I just don’t care about being popular. The understanding of social rules doesn’t come naturally to me. Instead I observe and operate on a level of complete authenticity and truth. You will get from me exactly what I mean. Sometimes people experience me being blunt or abrasive as I sometimes struggle to fully understand the impact of my words as I assume other people understand logic as well as I do. I sometimes feel like an alien who landed on a different planet where logic has been left behind.
-Neurodiversity is nature’s diversity in action. A recent new connection told me that I am one of the most socially capable people they know. This is because I approach social interaction on a conscious level and am hyper sensitive and can read people easily with my learned understanding. It is because I worked hard on adapting to my challenges and I have ‘mastered’ the art if there is such a thing. I just don’t partake in playing social games because they make no logical sense. Normal people quickly judge people by their clothes, their accents, their popularity. Of course that gives me information too, but I draw different conclusions: I may see an interesting story, an unusual gift, often a missed opportunity for society to empower and encourage a beautiful human.
I am socially skilled because I trained hard to compensate, but it is not my comfort zone. It takes me a lot of energy to interact and often I don’t have much energy spare. There for I often come across as unable to connect, yet people that really know me, know that I am able to connect on an unusually deep level.
– My autistic mind has consciously trained me into being able to be fully aware of the culture of interaction between people. This awareness allows me to be an excellent conscious designer of a connecting culture. My skills combined with the model designed by Jon Young and the 8-shields institute give us a real treasure at Rubha Phoil.
Our culture aims to help us and future generations achieve the 8 attributes of connection:
– To be able to understand my world better, I have specialised in observing human behaviour and have studied psychology (outside of the school system). I understand and operate foremost on the level of non-verbal communication. I have separated myself from Western Colonial Culture for 4 years when I went to live in the forest. This long hermit time in nature has given me an opportunity to gain a unique perspective on my own conditioning and on Western culture and helped me to decolonise myself and regain my freedom. This treasure of skills and experiences enable me to help create a connecting culture, a regenerative Culture in my own being and around me. This is what makes me a good mentor. I am able to help other people decolonise their minds too, by using a technique I developed and call “echo location”.
–This also enables me to see manipulative dishonest behaviour easily, which combined with my disregard for being popular and a compulsive tendency to blurt out the truth as I see it (I have a weak filter), makes me not always liked within a certain group of people ;-). I am sometimes seen as a trouble maker. That may be a fair assessment. If I see power abuses, I feel a compulsion to expose it. It is a common trait amongst people on the spectrum to fight for justice and hold steadfast, even if it damages their popularity. To many of us, being popular is less important than doing the right thing.
– I am able to observe and receive and process lots of information at the same time and hold large amounts of information in my awareness all in one. From unknown amounts of small details to the whole overview. This does take a lot of energy from me, so I do need to rest a lot and spend time alone in nature to recover. This capacity makes me an excellent permaculture designer but also a bit of a hermit.
– Add to all the above my ability of being able to read patterns and relationships really well and you’re starting to understand why some people who have autism are a real asset to the Permaculture Design network. Being able to read patterns and the relationships in designing really well leads to quick and deep understanding of how nature works, predict certain future events with high accuracy (sentinel intelligence), efficiently reduce leaks and increase the yields many fold. This is needed to be able to create a massive spiral of abundance. If you’re curious now about my work, you’re in for a treat. I’m really proud of what I have created.
– My mind works faster than most other peoples’, but can get overloaded easily too. I need to look after my energy levels and ‘dose’ my interactions with other people
– I am able to get hyper focussed on certain topics. My pet subject for 42 years already is: find a solution so that we won’t go extinct. I have filled a big basket with as many skills and assets I could I find which I felt we would need in the future that lies ahead of us.
Maybe one of the most defining results of my autism has been created by being rejected by almost every organisation involved in creating solutions that I ever have been a member off.
That may sound strange at first.
This is what I learned: Every organisation created is created within the existing culture. The culture I am born in, is a culture designed by people who like power. The result is that every organisation eventually ends up being controlled by people that like being popular or like having power.
People like that seem almost allergic to autistic people who can see through games easily and who don’t care about being popular.
The result for me is that this enabled me to easier create something that is different. Surely rationally we all need to agree that power games and being popular does not belong in the structures that we need to safe our species and our ecosystem.
I am slowly creating an impressive list of all the organisations and people I have joined and that have rejected me and why. I am distilling the patterns out of it. I am doing this because it is the best way for me to illustrate the uniqueness and true value of my creation.
So, what unique thing have I done with my autistic being?
I started looking into solutions when I at a very young age learned that trees produce the oxygen that we breathe and
I persuaded my parents to plant an oak tree in the garden. My passion for a regenerative culture was born, even though I didn’t know the word! Once I learned of the challenges we would face for survival from the 6 o’clock news, I never was able to carry on with life as ‘normal’. I was obsessively looking out for solutions and learning new things that would be useful in the challenged future we are in now.
As a kid my learning was about building fortresses and reading book about heroes and native peoples. Once I was old enough to make my own choices, I changed the direction of my life to train myself to be ready to be part of the solution I since identified as being the root cause:
a regenerative culture as opposed to a disconnecting culture.
I have looked into as many aspects of that massive topic as I can imagine: permaculture growing and forest gardening, permaculture design, psychology, trauma healing, spirituality, peace making, healthy sexuality, simple technology life hacks, culture and community, democracy, activism, education, land management, survival skills, nature connection, mental and physical health and well-being, circular economy, good food, grief tending… I am still learning more every day and have connected with a rich network of experts in their fields.
– Nature is always real and doesn’t play games in which I do not fully understand the rules. This is what normal social interactions for most of you, looks like to me. So I have felt a desire to be deeply connected with nature instead. Over the years my connection with nature has included 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 on the West Coast for 4 years in a self-made shelter with a wood burning stove. This 4 year long hermit phase, living on my own in the woods, gave me a unique experience. I learned to connect with and read my ecosystem to be able to live in harmony with it. I unlearned the conditioning from Colonial Culture that inhibits our human development and retrained myself to unleash my full human potential. The forest switched on all my senses and made me into the man I am born to be: A village builder, a teacher, a designer for a resilient future. A warrior for peace, justice and the planet. But most of all: a mentor to help other people connect with themselves, nature and others.
About the solution I Designed:
I am ready for what is to come as best as I can be. The solution I have dreamed up to contribute my part to the survival of our species:
A 15 acre rock in the sea off the Isle the Skye. Home for a small residential community, unimaginable amount of opportunities to create resilience for all it’s members and for the local community. A place to come and rest and heal. A place to come and learn and be inspired. A place to be part of the solution. Read more here.
- A Virtual Village along side the above. A place to connect, learn, share and trade. A virtual space to power our circular local economy. A place to power our spiral of abundance. You are invited to join here.
About Earth Ways
I have created Earth Ways in 2007 as the enterprise face of my presence on this planet, to earn the coins I need to fund my self and my work.
I offer you my services as a forest garden, permaculture, regenerative culture designer and teacher, and as a nature connection mentor. Feel free to contact me if I can help you in providing solutions for sustainable ways of living that work in collaboration with nature rather than continually fighting against it. I have many years experience of restoring natural habitats, re-introducing biodiversity, pioneering sustainable ways of growing food and harvesting bio fuels, designing permanent culture projects of various sizes as well as mentoring in nature connection, regenerative design, bushcraft and survival skills.
I can offer online and in real life talks, workshops and courses for individuals or for groups. Feel free to contact me for a chat.
You can find testimonies from former students, clients and other people I have inspired here.
A Masters Cultural Anthropology thesis made by Ellen in which my work was used can be read here.
It is good to know that you need to Join the Virtual Village to hire me. I want to pioneer a local economy and I accept payment in Rubha Rocks only. You can invest in Rubha Rocks or earn them on the Village. You can learn more here.
Some video’s about me and my work
By Le Caitlin NicCoinnich
Relevant Papers and certificates
I went to school in a Roman inspired classical setting. I studied Latin, mathematics, languages, sciences….
I have studied as a graduate in Ortho-pedagogy (pedagogy is the science of teaching and Ortho indicated a specialisation in special needs, from the perspective of Roman inspired education.) and worked professionally in that field with people of all ages for 10+ years.
I obtained my Permaculture Designer Certificate in 2009 from Patrick Whitefield, the famous author of many permaculture books and foremost permaculture expert in Britain.
In 2010 I successfully completed a course in Permaculture Training of Teachers organized by ‘Designed Visions‘.
I also had my first encounter with the Art of Mentoring and the 8-shields institute, in 2009, where I learn ingenious indigenous ways of passing on knowledge and assisting nature connection. I have since taken part in 4 of these as participant and staff member and have organised and taken part in many smaller events.
I am a former Registered Permaculture Teacher. The reason why I no longer am on the register is a story that is still being written.
Since 2011 I organized Permaculture Design and Nature Awareness Courses that reflects my own permaculture learning curve. If I may say so myself, they are a great success! I have taught more than 12 such courses and have written more than 100 certificates. Many former students are now teaching onwards.
In 2012 have set up a permaculture farm near Forres, with pigs, sheep, ducks, chickens, bees and lots of delicious vegetables. After 5 years this project moved to Rubha Phoil on the Isle of Skye.
In 2013 I started the first ever free crowdfunding website! Carried by a Community Interest Company to help people crowdfund without charges, the funds they need for their ethically sound projects: www.earth-ways.com. Since then, many other free crowdfunding websites were created so ours is no longer needed. We are now only crowdfunding for our own projects.
I’m teaching courses, and am taking clients for permaculture design and consultation.
In 2021, we left this demonstration network because it was being used unethically to cipher money ear marked for the Highlands and Islands to the British Permaculture Network. This was done in the same patterns of extracting resources from the Highlands as used by colonialists from the South for hundreds of years. More about that here.
Now we are proud to be an ex-ScotLAND centre. That story is linked to the end of being a registered teacher too and is still being written for publication.
Rubha Phoil is slowly progressing into a nature-based permaculture community.
I have created a Virtual Village to bring all people together that want to work towards a better world.
Earth Ways or Ludwig in the media:
One of many arrests as a non-violent accountable peace activist. This one was for entering Prestwick Airport and entering a plane of the US air-force, looking for evidence of war crimes being committed in 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 they were safe. I was acquitted.
Drawing attention to the stupidity of the invasion of Afghanistan. This is a banner drop on the Belfort in Gent, Belgium.
As a member of Trident Ploughshares, Ludwig went to jail twice for non violent peace activism. Both sentences were for convictions for actions against the Trident Nuclear war system. I refused to pay the fines and went to prison instead.
A special mention for this fun day. I managed to close the North Gate At Faslane on my own for quite some time by finding and exploiting a weakness: Lamp posts.
Maybe my best accolade: Ludwig is called a parasite by the Sheriff: ‘Sheriff Smith said: ”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.’
A short movie made by Schnews about the occupation of a mast in Berkshire, to highlight the collaboration of the UK with the US military in the illegal invasion of Iraq.
A nice article about my time in the forest:
Ludwig and Suzanne de Waard wrote an article on how to make your own permaculture polytunnel. It is published here”
This article on how to live with slugs in your permaculture garden shows nicely how Earth Ways puts nature connection and ecosystem management central in the courses and workshops.
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