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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.

Tending a climate for change – reclaiming, divesting, repairing, resowing, returning, renewing…

Currently there are less than 1% of us living carbon-positive lifeways in the rich countries. While taking to the streets is of course important, 
it is the day-to-day relationships of the home and community economies that will ultimately replace the old paradigm of extractive-consumptive economics driving so much woe. And even as our gardens lie dormant –

and it’s time to rest, make music, fool around and play,

celebrate various rites of passage,

give out responsibilities and roles (such as tending wild apples on common land after being shown how to prune for abundance and against disease),

share celebratory cake, in gathered and op-shopped winter colour,

and begin again the prepping and planting for another growing season (while living off the fruits from the last sun-gifted season) – there are many things to do and many to give to.

We have begun to take volunteers again. Our first for the new season the delightful, gutsy 16 year-old self-schooler Ishaa,

who came to us after spending a few weeks protecting sacred trees near Ararat. This is where we met her and where earlier we’d made a few videos to help grow awareness of that struggle.

Because the dominant culture still puts roads before trees we must stand with local mobs. Here is the story explained by Djab Wurrung warrior, Zellenach Djab Mara.

While it’s important to rally and blockade, if we only make demands of governments and don’t change within ourselves we are just fiddling while Rome burns. 

In Melbourne Woody was captured by news media responding to the question of why he was at the largest climate rally in Australia’s history:

He knows life is much more-than-human.

Walk for degrowth, indeed. And bicycle and bike-trailer for degrowth too.

This is what degrowth looks like in action after nearly 10 years of being a carless household:

While having the right tools is important for transition, it’s the behavioural and biological changes we can make in our daily lives that are key to real transformation. If political power resides in industrial forms of food, energy, education and medicine etc., then our daily divesting from these things is far more powerful than voting once every few years and more empowering than taking to the street.

Teaching kids to use appropriate tools that can be fixed, sharpened and repurposed is just one example of changing behaviour. Keeping kids out of school is another, either for two days a week like Tom or permanently like Woody.

Woody has spent much of the year saving up for a violin by selling foraged kindling. The pre-loved violin he bought came from the Swap Shop in Melbourne where he traded in his walked-for sticks for musical strings.

He is involved in the household’s sifting of potash from the char of our home-fire and he routinely returns such wood-promoting fertiliser back to the forest floor from where he gathers the kindling and we carefully handpick our fuel source – a fuel source that requires no grid, is regenerative and requires ecological thinning. This complete approach to economy, including the making of making returns, is at the heart of neopeasant relocalisation.

Woody is also one of a growing community of shepherds farming without farmland on public land to mitigate increasing bushfire risk and reduce weed dominance.

Goathand co-op, which several households contribute to now, has recently got a gig at the local high school where the goats are eating down blackberries, broom, grass and annual weeds ahead of a large-scale carbon sequestration planting project.

As a co-op committed to new and old forms of land custodianship practices we’ve run into some hurdles, which we explain here in our second Goathand video:
Is Zero related to our Boer goats? He certainly has their agility.
Life in the home and community economies enables us to drop everything when a child is ready to learn something new, and this means learning is magnified and relational. Forced learning may suit institutional life but it doesn’t serve children or their futures. Climate change will radically strip our wealth so we’ll need to know how to repair things again, like a favourite torn flanny.

Because there’s always loads to do, we have to be well in ourselves in order to keep performing the new-old economies. Preventing disease and staying well will be key as the global economy collapses and the climate gives increasingly louder feedback to its toxic culture of hypertechnocivility. Non-monetised community immunity and wellbeing is central to our transition.

Meg makes garlic kraut at Culture Club. Photo by Mara Ripani

After nearly three and half years Meg is still facilitating Daylesford Culture Club, our region’s free monthly fermenting group. She is now also convening Wild Fennel, a free monthly herbal group, facilitated by local herbalist, Rosie Cooper. And she is also helping fellow plant lover Brenna Fletcher organise Hepburn Seed Savers, which will operate out of our town’s library. You can read more about these and other projects we are involved with here. Two weeks ago Meg addressed our councillors at an ordinary meeting asking them to declare a climate emergency in our shire. All seven councillors unanimously agreed, and our local shire officially joined over a thousand local councils across the globe in committing to put climate action front and centre of all their decisions.

Well, that’s enough from us for another post. If you need a little more food for thought here are some recent talks. This one is Meg and Patrick speaking to the transitioning communities of the Yarra Ranges,

and this one is Patrick’s defence and praise of pioneering biota and the great gifts they bring in performing ecological restoration in a climate chaos era.

And this one is a talk we organised late last year to promote indigenous, permacultural and post-capital cross pollinations, which we only released recently.

We hope you enjoyed this little offering, Dear Reader. Spending increasingly less time online means our posts are more infrequent. But sharing a little of what we’re up to continues to link us into the global spirit of change for people seeking alternatives well beyond taking to the streets.

Dreaming up a bicycle utopia; eating non-privatised foods

We woke early and left Gundagai, the town of long timber bridges, before the sun got too hot.

We made a quick obligatory stop,

before really finding out how the Hume Highway was going to shape us.

We were surprised. Despite the noise and the speed of the traffic, the wide shoulders really helped us ride in relative peace. It was a cruisy ride from Gundagai to Jugiong (helped along by our first tail wind of the trip) where we parked our bikes in the shade beside a green grocers run by the very frinedly Gino. We (dumpster) dived into his compost boxes and produced some lovely stone fruit.

While buying some local veg from Gino he asked if we needed a good camping and swimming spot.

Thanks Gino! A perfect free camping ground. The next morning we harvested some stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) beside the Murrumbidgee River.

Nettle is high in iron and great for relieving painful muscles and joints. Just the thing for weary bike tourers. Lightly blanching the nettles takes away the sting, produces a healthy tonic to treat urinary and prostate complications and leaves a perfect fodder material for making an excellent pesto with almonds.

After our free medicinal hit we cycled up the road to the very bourgeois The Long Track Pantry for a breakfast cup of tea and a loaf of yummy bread,

before easing our way into the heartland of wool country.

Since leaving Daylesford over a month ago our nostrils have flared wildly and our hearts have sunk deeply with the roadkill we have passed.

We counted 81 killed animals between the left verge and left lane of the north bound Hume Highway between Jugiong and Yass, a distance of 60 kms.

This massacre included a myriad of birds, three tortoises, a dozen wallabies, several blue tongues, countless kangaroos, flattened foxes, rabbits, a wild pig, two echidnas and numerous snakes including this young copperhead.

Given there are four lanes and four verges on this dual highway one could surmise as many as 324 roadkilled critters for every 60 kms of highway. That’s a staggering 5.4 deaths per kilometre. The Hume, according to Wikipedia, is 838 kms in length which means, if you average it, there are quite possibly 4,525 corpses along this highway at any one time.

But it wasn’t just the sickening aspects of this road – the senseless massacres, the climate changing and packaging pollution that proliferated – we found worth observing,

the Hume offered up sweet moments of beauty and surprise, especially when we got off it (in this case in Bowning) and found some roadside fruit to forage and help restore our battered senses.

Then when we arrived in Yass we were welcomed by an avenue of not-quite-ripe publicly accessible almonds (Prunus spp.),

some heavenly ripe plumcots (Prunus spp.) overhanging a fence,

and were given some Leeton grown oranges by a God’s Squad bikie. Thanks Glen!

We camped, fished and slept under a balmy summer’s night sky before facing the Hume again.

Imagine this road as a sea of bicycles…

After riding about 40 km we arrived in Gunning, a town that boasts a free caravan-camping ground with hot showers at Barbour Park, and found we were just in time for the monthly Sunday market.

We bought some regional produce,

picked some free herbs (gave them a drink),

took a swim and lunched on some delicious bush tucker at Barbour Park.

The starchy bulb of cumbungi or bullrush (Typha spp.) offers an excellent raw or cooked vegetable at this time of year. Cumbungi is ecologically beneficial for capturing silt, creating habitat for diverse species and stabilising banks. It can also become ‘weedy’ so it makes a great food where we are the biological control or, as Russell Edwards would say, ‘ecological participants‘.

Stay tuned for more free food and other low-impact resources as we inch towards the Christmas lunch table in Moss Vale,

keep safe on the roads and if you’re driving, please think bike and think critter!