New earth or new cult?

By Johana Hartwig 

An alternative enterprise springs up in my neighbourhood and my curiosity is instantly aroused.  I am curious about the people involved, how they apply their ideals and if the business manages to keep the integrity it began with.

In March 2008 a man called Godfrey opened ‘New Earth Warehouse’ in Pontcanna.  I first met him six years ago at a wedding where he ranted at me for the duration of the meal.  Last Saturday I decided to visit the New Earth Warehouse.

New Earth Warehouse

New Earth Warehouse

The New Earth Warehouse was originally a dairy; in 1986 it became ‘Poncanna Pine’ – a furniture business, run by Billy, who still owns the building today.  But Billy was bored of selling furniture, profits were down and Godfrey approached him for the building, he said no.  Billy later fell into a nine-day coma and had a change of heart when he emerged, a deal was struck. Billy now pays the mortgage and the New Earth Warehouse pay bills.

A 'rescue raft'

Godfrey and his two girlfriends Anise and Sarah set up the New Earth Warehouse as ‘Raft rescue centre’ in antisipation of a flood of biblical proportions.  At first, a day’s work consisted of raft building and playing indoor cricket.

Perhaps media coverage of climate change and films such as The Day After Tomorrow and 28 Days Later cultivated this survivalist mentality.  But judging by one of the left-over rafts (see photograph) I am not sure how many people they would have saved.

Louise Taylor, who works in the café said “All the world is changing, people are just trying to work out how to go with it”.

Billy banned Godfrey for scaring the public away and ‘Raft rescue centre’ evolved into yurt workshop, café, shop and music room for bands.

When I first walked through the door of the New Earth Warehouse I saw a musty open plan room.   Two ladies were chatting and eating in the café area, children were playing and things were shining at me from the bazaar.   In the far left sat a yurt and covering the walls paintings by local artists.

I started talking to Louise who was about to invest her grandparent’s inheritance of a few thousand pounds in N.E.S.T, New Earth Sustainable Training – domestic recycling information and equipment.   I asked if she was starting NEST with legal contracts – she said she was.

The New Earth Warehouse’ philosophy is sustainability and community and all the 30 or so on off staff at New Earth volunteer.  The area is residential and affluent and there has only been one complaint relating to noise after a drum workshop.  Residents prefer to have the building used as an ‘Alternative community centre’ than for it to become flats.

Rasta's juice bar

Entrance to the Rasta juice bar

 

On the future of New Earth, the workers seemed in agreement that it should stay the same size.  Developments include: N.E.S.T, overhauling the alternative therapies room and developing a Rasta juice bar.

My hopes are that New Earth can avoid impending bankruptcy, navigate away from cult mentality and engage more people like Pa-Madau, drum teacher and wood carver of traditional African masks who “focuses useless hippies” (Louise).

 

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4 Responses to “New earth or new cult?”

  1. lili Says:

    haha..
    managed to catch the sense of the place!
    this was a really good idea and would have inspired and changed quite a few peoples lives and added a special touch to the ” upper” pontcanna, unfortunately is was run very unorganised and with dishonest intentions as mention above. a shame to see it close thou…

  2. HEATHER Says:

    I went to a party at the warehouse and learnt that the bus shelters in Cardiff can be unscrewed to be used as flotation devices when the floods come. I wonder where I would go in one and how I would remove it from the pavement during a flood, perhaps I should be removing them in preparation? How we will clothe ourselves when the floods come/we run out of resources was also a hot topic of discussion – I sumised that there may well be enough clothes around already, but apparantly they will not last and we will need to dress in animal skins. I was told to be less selfish and think of others – not having children is not an excuse to not worry about these things. So I went to sleep on a couch in the cold, it seemed preferrable.

  3. jo Says:

    The warehouse has undergone another change…
    About a month ago I walked past and it was sinister hippy hide no longer, now a friendly low key flea market, run by Cardiff’s lovable scouse Ian of Cardiff band Taffia and ex purveyor of Roath S&M nights. I brought a full kit drum for £75 – bargain and Ian gave my baby son Taryn a pretty chingly wind-chime for free.

  4. Stephen Coupland Says:

    Would like to contact Billy Munro, can anyone help?

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