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Artist as Family’s Book of Neopeasantry (first excerpt)

For the past year we’ve been journalling every day with the intention of collecting stories for a book focussed on the relationships and processes of how we live, make culture and practice economy. Today we share with you a first excerpt as we slowly transform our two journals into one manuscript, which we’re calling Artist as Family’s Book of Neopeasantry.

This is not a how to or guide book on neopeasantry but rather, like our first collaborative effort The Art of Free Travel, it’s a memoir. In Artist as Family’s Book of Neopeasantry both we adults share our days, sometimes with overlapping stories and themes, sometimes not.

We hope you enjoy this forthcoming series of excerpts. We’d love to hear from you in the comments about how you are building the parallel society in your neck of the woods, step-by-step composting your household’s reliance on neoliberal corporatism while strengthening your local forms of economy. If you’re moved to and have the capacity, please consider supporting our work in one of four ways and help keep the gifts flowing.

Now, without further ado, a first insight into Artist as Family’s Book of Neopeasantry.

October 16

Nikki is a dear friend and elder of ours. She is one of those rare spirits who works to make the world sing. She with others in the community started the local Repair Café where people volunteer their time to fix things for others.

Fixers include those good with electrical devices, repairing bicycles, darning socks, mending jumpers, and sharpening knives. Blackwood takes his repair kit to fix loose soles on peoples shoes. Meg takes along her hand-fashioned sign, which announces she is MENDING BROKEN HEARTS, offering a listening and reflecting table for matters of the heart. For this month’s gathering, Nikki has asked me to run a chainsaw sharpening workshop. I also bring equipment to teach secateur maintenance.

A small cohort of people has gathered around my table at the club room at Victoria Park. I begin with demonstrating the filing of the teeth of a chain. How to maintain the correct angle and tension as you push the file through each tooth. I demonstrate the cleaning and sharpening of secateurs, first by disassembling all parts, then ragging away any remnant grease, sanding the crud or dried sap from the blades with wet and dry sandpaper, then reapplying a film of new grease and reassembling.

The grease I use is tallow from Bruce the bull. Veronika has often gifted us tallow and meat cuts from her family’s farm. We mostly cook with tallow, or ghee that Meg makes. Veronika used to come to Meg’s monthly free-to-learn fermentation workshops and she continues to shower us with gifts from her family’s subsistence productions.

All around us the gifts flow. We send them out into the world and others flow back. This is why we call our main economic form a flow of gifts economy. It grows with trust and love. It is not clunky like barter, and it’s not ruthless like money. As at the Repair Café, gifts aggregate and true eldership leads the way to start them flowing, leading by love and gentle encouragement.


I ride up to the Sunday market just with Zero as Blackwood is mowing our neighbour’s lawns and Patrick is working on a long blog post about the Free Julian Assange rally. 

Jono from Brooklands gifts me a bag of bones for Zero, then Ruby from Two Fold gifts me a loaf of bread, and I pedal home to find Dallas dropping off an unwanted rooster at our door. Another gift. The apple and quince blossoms are out in full glory, and the garden is humming with life and activity, and I am feeling inside the rich current of the generosity of the season.

We put the rooster in the cellar then pedal up to the Repair Café at Victoria Park. Patrick is running a chainsaw and tool sharpening workshop, Blackwood has taken his shoe repair kit, and I sit at my regular table and listen to people’s heart breaking stories. Mending is not fixing, it’s just listening and sometimes reflecting. It is a big and bustling afternoon and everyone is in good spirits because the sun is shining after so many days of rain.

The last person to sit at my table is John, who’s been sharpening knives at the table next to mine all afternoon. He is there to chat, not have his heart mended, he tells me. When it’s nearly time to pack up, I tell him I am heading home to kill and cook for dinner the rooster Dallas has dropped over and he tells me about the time many years ago he was on a tram in Melbourne. A woman gets on and the conductor tells her she isn’t allowed on the tram with a live duck tucked under her arm. They have a brief conversation then the woman casually wrings the duck’s neck, then puts it back under her arm and sits down.



  1. trace says:

    ohhh my heart!! super excited to know this is happening- this is the rich stuff of life!! and love this first extract… its warm, inspiring and also very funny!!

    1. Thanks Trace! We’re loving your new book in our home.

  2. Lisa says:

    Fabulous gentle writing, I enjoyed the weaving of stories …I wait with bated breath for the next instalment……gratitude x

    1. Thanks Lisa, sending love to you and M. We’re looking forward to coming out soon to hunt some rabbits. xx

  3. Eka says:

    😅😅😅 John’s story made me start my day with a smile, a laugh and a chuckle.
    So looking forward to starting more of my days with heartwarming stories from your beautiful inspiring lives.
    Can we pre-order the book?

    1. Thanks Eka, that’s very encouraging. We’re not at pre-order stage yet, but we’ll keep you posted and we’ll keep the excerpts flowing. Love and hugs.

  4. Erin says:

    So wonderful. So excited to read this in its entirety. Thank you always xx

  5. Jac says:

    The vibe of aaf is way cool. Me, I’m yet to be sold on chainsaws.

    1. As big ol’ dags we’ll happily take that. Thanks Jac! On chainsaws: for us, living so close to a forest of fallen branches, we can run our wood stove (which powers up to eight appliances at once) with walked-for fuel (no industrial grids) brought home in wheelbarrows and bicycle trailers.

  6. Rachel says:

    Lovely! This really shines a light on the beating heart of gift economy culture, thanks so much 🙂

    1. Thanks Rachel! Yes, it is a beating heart.

  7. Brenna says:

    This is so uplifting to read. Thank you artist as family ❤️

  8. Eleanor says:

    This is such a beautiful, warm, heart-filled excerpt! I’m excited for the release of the whole piece when the time comes. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    1. Thanks Eleanor, we look forward to sharing more excerpts with you along the way.

  9. Natasha says:

    Gifts are from the heart … . not measured as barter like – They come from a very different place. Your family’s gifts are felt far and wide and ripple out. Thank Very for sharing all you do.
    Very much looking forward to this series.

    1. Thanks Natasha, we spoke to the Forest & Free kids yesterday about being soft hearted and hard bodied – open hearted, resilient and strong in body. It seems the dominant culture wants us all to be the flip of this. We say ‘nah’ to that, we’ll keep the gifts flowing, from the heart.

  10. "PermaGrannie" says:

    It is always so wonderful to read your words.

  11. Stephanie R says:

    Wonderful!! Thank you!!!

  12. Rebecca says:

    Can’t wait to read this book in its entirely!

    1. We look forward to sharing more excerpts with you in the meantime, Rebecca.

  13. Jo Nemeth says:

    Great to hear you’re writing another book!

    1. Thanks Jo, good to hear from you! Sending love and hugs.

  14. Caitlin Walsh says:

    Meg, reading about your mending offering warmed my heart!! I so look forward to reading more instalments ❤️

    1. Oh Caiti, to be living closer to each other… maybe one day…Love and hugs, sister.

  15. Nikki says:

    So lovely to read your individual and collective reflections on our repair cafe and on the movement, energy and abundance generated through gifting, each passing-on absorbing an essence of the giver. And I feel deeply touched by your generous acknowledgement of me.

    In the way you are living your lives, I am reminded of words from two wise souls- Thomas Merton: our life is ‘a very great gift and a great good, not because of what it gives us, but because of what it enables us to give to others’. Also, Felix Telek, reflecting on reciprocity inherent within the gift, inviting us to ‘live our lives in the service of all life, in service of the soil and the tree, in service of the bird and the fish, to reciprocate so our life, that is a gift, becomes a gift to life’.

    What a rich exchange this writing and sharing project is/may become…another example of how gifting works. Looking forward to future missives, Nx

    1. Thanks Nikki, for your words and your works, and for those two quotes. Long and present hugs to you elder-sister.

  16. Kristina says:

    This was so beautiful to read. Thank you ❤️

  17. Alex says:

    Woa can’t wait to have it in my hands! A breeze of fresh air and hope for me to read and then share. I love to find books, and then passing them.

    1. Thanks Alex, we’ll keep posting little excerpts as we grow the manuscript.

  18. Oh guys it’s going to be wonderful! Your life is inspiring to so many, including me. It shows just how beautifully we can live well on less. And how we can build the kind of reciprocal community with others that so many of us crave in this disjointed modern world. To have a comprehensive guide/reference/story/examples in the form of a book we can share with others, to flick open if we need a boost and a bit of encouragement…well what a gift! Much love to you and yours!

  19. Thanks Emma, we so appreciate your love and and warmth. Thanks for being part of the living of the world, living the change, and connecting with us here.

  20. Glen Dunn says:

    Yep. That works. Beautiful extract and gorgeous parallax. Looking forward to the big view from the wee array ‘cross the vast expanse. Congrats and love. x

  21. marijke says:

    Love this and look forward reading more! Thanks for all the inspiration, all the way to Belgium x

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