You Really Can Wish the World Better – Green’s Glastonbury Story has a Happy Ending
Back in February I published a guest post by Glastonbury bard and reallywannago.com blogger Lisa Goodwin about Green the Wand Seller, who was kicked out of town without warning by Mendip Council and so disappeared from Glastonbury streets.
The response to the blog and Facebook post was huge, hundreds of people commented, all saying how much they had liked and missed Green, some messaged me privately and one reader, Debbie, wrote a post for us about the day her son Zane met Green – Spreading Kindness in Glastonbury Town, she also sent a gift in the post for me to pass on to him when he next came to town. That post prompted yet more positive messages for Green from readers. The Pilgrim Reception Centre asked me to tell Green they wanted to stock his wands.
Green’s wands might not be magic, but the message they come with is – ownership of one of Green’s wands automatically makes you a member of the Wishing the World Better Club. It’s about putting your best hopes and dreams into the wand, so when you are feeling down you can pick it up and remember. That’s Green’s mission – if you are thinking about making the world better you feel better too and that makes the world a little bit better, it’s self perpetuating.
Green also has a proverb: ‘If a story doesn’t finish good, it isn’t finished”. Turns out that although Green had felt rejected and kicked out of the town, his Glastonbury story was far from finished.
Eventually I got in touch with Green and he came to visit and told me his story. Three years ago he started suffering from tinnitus, and discovered he is going deaf. Deciding the best way to cheer himself up was to start a project spreading happiness, the Wishing the World Better Club was born. He committed himself to it until Autumn 2018, after which he’d see where the road took him. Over that time his deafness rapidly worsened, selling wands on the High Street was becoming impossible as he couldn’t hear people with all the street noise around him. He decided he was definitely moving on, it was only three weeks before his planned leaving date that Mendip’s officers kicked him out of town, threatening him with prosecution for not having a license that he’d been repeatedly told he didn’t need.
He’d had no intention of breaking any laws, had been supporting himself with his own craftwork and a positive message, not claimed any state benefits and spent everything he earned in Glastonbury, yet he’d been made to feel like a criminal. He felt he had no alternative but to leave town straight away, it was then that he was asked for a lift to Totnes, figuring he could at least do someone a favour he obliged and on the journey his travelling companion told him about a place he visits in the Azores.
The island was called Flores, and sounded idyllic – off the coast of Portugal, covered in exotic flowers with a subtropical climate, and a population of only 4000 in an area of 143 square kilometres. Perhaps Green would go there one day, but for a while, feeling rejected and despondent, he sank into depression. Then earlier this year he heard there were volunteer opportunities learning Permaculture on the island so he applied. The host needed to know about Green’s past, he wanted a CV. Green didn’t have a CV, but he did have a blog post written about him that showed that people in the little town of Glastonbury in Somerset thought he was a good bloke, that he was responsible and kind and creative. It was enough, he was invited out to the Island for a visit.
The Island was perfect, everything he had hoped for, but the islanders were a little wary of strangers, Green met the island’s Matriarch and told her about the blog post on Normal For Glastonbury, she shared it with her friends – the entire population of the Island. Suddenly everyone was saying hello to Green, he was no longer a stranger. He didn’t always hear them though, but his new friends have promised to let everyone know about his worsening hearing, so they can speak clearly to him. The Islanders have asked Green to help them, he used to make labyrinths on the Tor, they’d leave an imprint on the grass for people to follow, he’s taking that idea into the Island’s primary school, showing the kids about labyrinths and learning Portuguese at the same time. He’s taking the Wishing the World Better Club to the Island too.
Meanwhile he’s arranged for the Pilgrim Reception Centre (in the Glastonbury Information Centre) to sell his wands in Glastonbury, that way he’ll be earning a small living, some of the money will stay in the town and the profits will go into The Wishing the World Better Club so he can carry on spreading good wishes throughout the world – starting with the Azores.
By the way, if you would like to buy one of Green’s Wand’s the Information Centre is his only Glastonbury stockist.
Green had been amazed that Lisa had written about him and that I’d published the story, I sat him down at my computer and left him to read all the facebook comments that people had made about him, he’s not on social media and had no idea that he’d been so missed be townspeople and visitor’s. He told me:
“I’m totally humbled by people’s response. I’m so glad to hear that I was making people happy in my own little way. I feel like I’ve had that happiness returned a thousand times reading everyone’s comments. I felt really sad for a while, especially as I wasn’t given a chance to tell people why I was leaving, but now I’m going to be living in the Azores and my wands are being sold officially in Glastonbury. It’s all my wishes come true!”
There’s a message in Green’s story for me too. I’d been feeling really down in the days before our meeting, Normal For Glastonbury has become a full-time job for me, but I’m finding it hard to make enough money to carry on living in the town and I’ve been worrying I might have to leave. I’ve been thinking about launching a “We’re Normal For Glastonbury Membership” where people pay a small yearly subscription in return for monthly members’ newsletters and other community benefits. The Normal For Glastonbury blog and Facebook page would still be free, but those of you who enjoy it would have the opportunity to support it. I’d make enough to put all that energy I’m wasting worrying, into writing about Glastonbury and connecting those of us who believe in kindness and magic. Trouble is I’d let my self doubt get in the way. When we met Green gave me my very own wand, I’m putting my hopes and dreams into it and I’ll be wishing the world better whenever I need it. With the wand came my membership card for the Wishing the World Better Club, the back of the card bears this quote from cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead:
“Never doubt that a small group of like minded people can change the world, indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does”.
I’m creating the membership site right now, you can wait for me to post up more info, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to make sure you get details when it’s launched and send me a message to cheer me up!
Why did Green get in trouble?
Mendip’s Massive Street Trading Application Process
If you’d like to sell goods in the street in Glastonbury – this includes selling a glut of homegrown courgettes on a table by your front door, or CD’s if you are busking, you’ll need a Street Trading License, or you will be liable to prosecution, a fine of up to £1000 and confiscation of your goods and vehicle.
To apply for the license you’ll need to have done all of this at least 28 days before you want to trade:
- Completed a very detailed 14 page application form
- Paid an application fee of at least £146.
- Got written permission from the landowner.
- Submitted a Map showing proposed location – 1:2500 scale.
- Submitted an endorsed passport sized photograph
- Supplied 3 Photographs of stall / trailer to be used – front, back and side perspectives
- Have an Electrical safety certificate
- Have a Gas safety certificate
- Have Public liability and indemnity insurance
- Supply evidence of Right to Work – Passport (current or expired). Or you can provide a birth certificate along with an official document giving your national insurance number and name, issued by a government agency or previous employer.
- Display a copy of site notice advertising the application being made. On orange coloured paper.
For more details take a look at the Policy document (all 17 pages of it) available here. I see that it is up for review in 2019. If, like me, you think it’s a bit ridiculous that it’s the same process regardless of what you are selling, you can give them some feedback on their website. But they are quite busy telling people to stop being so colourful in Glastonbury at the moment, so it might take a while to get back to you.
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