Blog

A selection of our writings from 2009 to the present. If you'd like to keep up to date with our latest posts, please subscribe below.

Neoliberalism or neopeasantry? Patrick is guest on Sacred Lab podcast

How do we transition from neoliberalism to something more beautiful, even as the Empire falls apart and takes so much life with it? Here we share an excerpt from Ryan Dickinson’s interview with Patrick on Ryan’s podcast, Sacred Lab.

You can listen to the audio excerpt here:

 

In the podcast, Patrick referred to the film The Babushkas of Chernobyl and the book The Wisdom of Insecurity.

Below is our accompanying drawing to this audio. The dotted line (in this series of drawings) represents transition, movement, or connection to both stories, the old one in the future other, or the integration of both to create a third reality in the very present. The dotted line plays with the oppositional, it acts as a permeable membrane between the so-called “real world” (of university medalists designing nuclear warheads, engineering viruses, sterilising food seeds, or calling heterodox thinkers conspiracy theorists while protecting state-corporate interests from scrutiny), and the imagined – the world we’re longing for, seeding into, and knowing the generational succession and resistance required to rebuild the village, while committing fully to the present moment to make that future possible, even in glorious futility and foolishness.

 

All power to the ones already moving to a more beautiful world our hearts, guts and minds know is possible. Much compassion to those wanting to move but are stuck or caught or entrapped by neoliberalism or something else. Keep wriggling your cuffs!

As always your comments are welcome, they give added spice to this place of story.

Forest & Free: rebuilding the village from the forest in – our 2023 programs for kids

Forest & Free is a place of fun, adventure, challenge, and a place of risk for 8-12 year olds in Djaara Mother Country. The kind of activities the kids will experience are fire making and cooking, bush walking and foraging, fishing and wild swimming, safe knife use and simple tool making, regenerative farming and animal husbandry, deep listening and storytelling, tree climbing and shelter building, embodying ancestral lifeways and learning ecological knowledges and awareness, listening to one another and listening to Country.

There are few places left where kids can use knives, climb trees, navigate forests full of old mine shafts, light fires and generally get scratched up and stung by being participants of life. It is in this spirit that we invite children to attend Forest & Free and for them to experience a healthy interrelationship between safety and risk.

In allowing children to attend Forest & Free, parents agree to sharing the risk with us and with their children. The risk is therefore spread three-ways – we as the facilitators, the parents, and the children – and is distributed this way to build personal responsibility and to avoid blaming, shaming and the possibility of closing down this community resource.

Life happens, and we don’t believe this is a good enough reason to submit to the cult of safetyism, which is a mental virus that has bloomed from institutions of the most industrialised countries.

We are not about setting challenges that are too great for the children, and we don’t encourage an overtly competitive or risk-taking culture, rather we encourage children to meet new challenges and learn from others around them, and the forest.

Forest & Free is deep listening, embodying resilience, meeting challenges, learning skills and having fun. The broader culture, up until recently, used to see breaking a bone, receiving stitches, getting lost, being burnt by fire, etc as a rite of passage for young people – necessary for the development of children at this age.

While we don’t wish any of these things on any child, and we explain each skill, challenge, game or wild food in terms of the risks and benefits involved, adversity is the underlying, ever present flip side of enabling such learning and therefore such growth.

As adults we understand that some of our greatest learnings come through discomfort, and it’s how we respond to these situations that really matters in building resilience and bouncebackability.

In 2023 we are running 8 full-day paid events ($20 per child for the day, 10am – 4pm). These dates are either in school holidays or land on public holidays and will be open to not-schooled and schooled kids.

We also run a weekly full-day program for not-schooled kids every Monday from 10am – 4pm. These sessions are based on a gift exchange. If you have surplus homegrown or home-made food, hand-me-down clothes etc, they are gifts we value. When there is abundance let it flow. When there’s not we understand.

Children are required to come with water bottle, healthy lunch and snacks, a sun hat, clothing appropriate to the weather, a pocket knife, and a sense of adventure.

We are looking forward to an exciting year of forest play, learning, exploration and celebration of life. We begin each event with a listening circle so as we can all hear where each of us is at. This helps build compassion and bonds the group, while practicing deep listening.

If you are interested to learn more about Forest & Free, or are thinking of starting up a forest group in your own neck of the woods, please get in touch. Similarly if you know of other bush schools in your area or have experience as a participant in another community bush school, please let us know in the comments. We value your stories and your thoughts.

Signing off for now with blackberry scratches on our shins, and bidgee widgee burrs in our feathers,

Patrick and Meg (Blue Wren and Magpie)

Mother of mountain (a pickling recipe music video)

Hello pickled turnip and purslane lovers, introducing… a new Artist as Family music video to celebrate Meg on her 49th birthday, featuring Maya Green on fiddle.

Now for the recipe:

First:
Add your cleaned turnips to your jar. We pickle ours whole, but feel free to slice yours first. They will taste the same, but will ferment faster if they are sliced. Pick your purslane and wash if needed. As purslane grows along the ground, it can collect soil. Break off the leaves and smaller stems. Keeping these on will turn your ferment into mush. We only ferment the larger stems. Ideally wait until the stems turn red in colour, but dark green is fine too. Add the stems into a second jar. We pickle the turnips and stems separately as they ferment at different rates. Keep the turnip leaves for cooking, and the purslane leaves and smaller stems for eating fresh.

To each jar add:
Pepper corns, mustard seeds, fresh dill or dill seeds, bay leaves, peeled garlic cloves, slices of fresh lemon or dried lemon. For the brine: 1 tablespoon of salt (non-iodised and without caking agent in it) per 2 cups of water. We use salt from Loch Iel (the Pink Lake) and rainwater.

Fermenting:
Make sure all the solids in your jars remain under the liquid and that they stay that way for the duration of the fermenting process. You can keep the lid on your jar tightly, loosely or not at all. As the veggies begin to ferment they will release carbon dioxide and brine may spill from your jars, so it’s best to place each jar on a plate or bowl to catch the liquid. You may need to top up each jar if a lot spills out. The time your veggies take to ferment depends mainly on the temperature of your home. The hotter the environment, the faster the process. Fermenting is a relationship. Don’t be afraid to taste the brine with a spoon each day to witness the transformation, to embody it, and so the brine can be part of your development too. The brine will start out clear and will turn cloudy. After 10 days or so in a summer home, your veggies might be ready. Taste them. If they are too crunchy, let them ferment for a few days longer. Once you are happy with the flavour and crunchiness, put your jars somewhere cold, such as a fridge, cool cupboard or cellar, to slow the fermentation process right down.

Eating:
We like to put our pickles out in a bowl and just munch them, or chop them up and add them to summer salads.

The body politic (youngtimer edition)

7 minute read or audio version.

 

Bombing countries to kill terrorists not only ignores the ground conditions of terrorism, it exacerbates those conditions. Locking up criminals not only ignores the conditions that breed crime, it creates those conditions when it breaks up families and communities and acculturates the incarcerated to criminality. And regimes of antibiotics, vaccines, antivirals, and other medicines wreak havoc on body ecology, which is the foundation of strong immunity… – Charles Eisenstein, The Coronation, 2022

Australia’s most vulnerable young people have no meaningful support. Those who find themselves in prison experience a nightmarish reality, especially since Covid. If they want to see family they have to keep lining up for jabs, which as we now know are dangerous to young people, and therefore illogical and unethical to mandate. If prisoners want to eat fresh vegetables, breathe clean air, or feel natural sunlight on their skin mediated through the shade of a tree they have Buckley’s chance and none. Anything that can help them to heal or grow is road blocked.

Bourgeois culture, which frames much of the Australian experience, clings to strawman crusades promulgated by social and legacy medias, while at the same time this dominant cultural paradigm turns a blind eye on the harsh realities and dark and complex relationships of our most at-risk youth. Judgement and punishment are metered out rather than rehabilitation, deep listening and compassion. “Compared with Australia’s 53.1 per cent, Norway’s recidivism rate after two years is 20 per cent, in Austria it is 26 per cent and in Finland, it is 36 per cent. The US state of Oregon and the Canadian province of Ontario have recidivism rates similar to Finland.” Welcome to the incarceration nation; building more private prisons and growing an internment caste system to advance another lucrative misery industry.

While we can have compassion for all young people in whatever complexes they’re moving through, we can also remain critical of the adult world hubris, double standards and doubling down that continues to harm youngtimers. Can we imagine a world where young offenders are treated with as much media compassion and attention as furries? In many other countries programmes are run to help prisoners process their grief – the grief that lead them to drugs and/or crime, the grief they hold for what they did to others, the grief of living in sterile cells exiled from community and ecology.

Our social ills often have similar root causes, it’s just the expression of them that differ, based on our personalities and life contexts.

What leads one teen to bulimia, one to furrydom and one to meth and burgs? The answer, in our view, can be found in the disconnected values and projects of neoliberalism. Drugs and crime, body image anxiety, and other kinds of dysphoria all find lucrative legal markets – private prisons, social medias and hyper medicalisation products ranging from ritalin to puberty blockers. Neoliberalism knows that unhappiness and sickness pays handsomely, it trades on it and factors it into GDP. Neoliberal institutions – universities, governments, medias, etc. – that use the forms of neoliberal economics and psychopolitics, are unwilling to self examine how they support and fuel such alienation, disconnection and social destruction.

While this website is dedicated to positive responses to the predicaments of our time, we are also committed to calling out that which stops or blocks the rebuilding of connected communities and ecological knowledges and interrelationships. One of the most profound things we can do to carry out this work is to switch off the neoliberal medias, and invest in an ecology of views, journalism and discussion that is diverse, critical and creative. Aaron Maté for your news on the Ukraine and Russian war, for example, or CJ Hopkins for your awareness of the rise of New Normal fascism, or David Holmgren on the hubris of new energy tech promises, or Vandana Shiva and Bret Weinstein on the genetically modified organism that is Covid.

Neoliberal medias hold the power for neoliberalism to flourish, for propaganda to be normalised, for dissenters and heterodox thinkers to be continually hounded, censored or labelled as misinformation spreaders. The response to any diseased and dying monoculture is for a resurgence of weed species to repopulate and prepare the trammelled ground for the regrowing of forests. The war against weeds is unwinnable, so too the war against diverse approaches to science, politics, health, young offenders and governance. The time to regrow diverse cultures of place is now, and leave behind the medias that grow alienation, fear and control.

This year we’ve made a further commitment to advancing independent voices and platforms. What reporters, social and ecological commentators, podcasters or writers are floating your boat at the moment? Who are the weeds that are nourishing you? What is the ground they are rehabilitating? As always, your comments are welcome. All power to the those who smell rats and who are acting on all their senses of knowing.