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Mark Johnson

I had a bad start in life. I’ve not gone down the ‘normal’ path. I’ve always done things a bit differently. I’ve had to innovate, and I’ve only pursued what I’m passionate about.

I wrote an international best-selling autobiography. I set up an award-winning arboriculture business that employed young offenders and people in recovery from addiction. I ran one of the first mentoring projects for young offenders for the Prince of Wales (now King!). I founded charities and social enterprises all led by people with lived experience of the issues they addressed – like crime, addiction, and homelessness.

To the world they might seem unrelated. To me they are completely related. I see them through the lens of permaculture and its principles of earth care, people care and fair share.

My story is that I’ve always loved trees from a young age. For me, nature is the healer. Nature has inspired lots of the great thinkers, my heroes. Charles Darwin, Peter Kropotkin, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren all looked to nature and saw the answer in collaboration.

Nature and its rhythms have the answer for our future on this planet. Yet we disregard it. Living in a space that you are consciously mindful of is really challenging for most people. Especially in a world of convenience and the illusion of certainness.

I’ve always felt that discomfort. I didn’t like living in flat. Doing the daily commute. And didn’t feel like I fit in. That disconnect led me to use drugs and all sorts of other problems. I’ve always been led by my intuition and my spirituality. When I started to really listen to them, I found my passion. People, nature, and fairness.

Everything I do – in my personal or work life – fits with these principles of permaculture. Its what I’ve been doing ever since. You can see it in my arboriculture business. It was about people care, it used a therapeutic approach. Earth care, by nurturing trees. And fair share, giving people written off by society a chance. You can see it in the charities I founded. They enable people to grow through self-reliance and personal responsibility – people care. They enable people to collaborate to solve some of our biggest social problems and to be given a stake in society – fair share.

My innovative approach has been recognised. As a social innovator and with an MBE.

And in all this time, for over a decade, I have been living and working on Aldersroot. Applying the same principles. Educating myself and disciplining myself about my own consumption and my relationship with nature and the planet.