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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.

Where are we now? Our lockdown in Warrnambool

Where are we now? Well that’s a complex question. Let’s begin with the tangible end of the answer. We’re in Gunditjmara People’s Country, living in retrosuburbia between beautiful Moyjil

and Merri Island.

When we first arrived in Warrnambool this man, Mark Dekker, spoke to us in Dhauwurd wurrung. He said, ‘Ngatanwarr wartee pa kakay Gunditjmara mirring-u,’ (Welcome brothers and sisters to Gunditjmara country). Mark’s daughter Violet (pictured) and son Beau are Gunditjmara kids, and they are growing up speaking their First People’s language.

We’ve been staying in a self-contained unit as guests of Rod and Hanna. Back home we are good friends with their son Connor, pictured below (some time ago) with his siblings Stella, Maya and Agina.

Rod and Hanna have been so generous to us, as has Hanna’s mum who lives across the laneway. Meet Mor Mor, a true elder who is heartily embedded in her community and, we were to discover, in service to many. She is currently reading Sand Talk, and like Rod and Hanna, Mor Mor has been leaving food packages on our doorstep.

We really landed in a most caring neighbourhood. Steve and Kathleen live next to Mor Mor. Here they are on a ride to the pier we have spent so much time on.

They too have been dropping off food bundles, and Steve bestowed on us a treasure chest of gifts he had collected over the years including panniers to replace our torn ones, a multitool knife for Blackwood and a tin whistle for Magpie. He made improvements to Merlin the tandem, repaired Blue Wren’s boots, and made a leather pouch for Blackwood’s new pruning saw,

which he received for his 9th birthday from his Nana and Papa.

Gifts also flowed to us from saltwater mother country. Patrick (who shares his birthday with Blackwood) caught a beautiful Australian salmon on his hand line with scrap chicken for bait (apparently rabbit works well too).

With all these gifts we couldn’t help but feel even more grateful for this life than we ordinarily do, and it was in this milieu we recorded and shared two new songs, Roadside fruit and Love real high.

So this is where we’ve been in tangible, relational and creative senses. But all the while our critical faculties have been working too, noticing things around us that don’t speak of love, of being in service, of being cultured in care and connection. On a street level, for instance, shops selling alcohol are deemed essential services and are well open for business while children’s playgrounds are closed and desolate.

Here, what is allowed to be open is lucrative and immunity harming, while what the state has closed ordinarily brings well-being, learning and social warming. Why then is there a refusal to apply cost-benefit analysis to COVID debates? We have so many questions. What if natural immunity is really superior to vaccines (as reported in Science)? How exactly has the Australian government’s ‘culture of secrecy’ threatened democratic journalism, and what does this mean for this time? Why has the Therapeutic Goods Administration taken offline (since August 31) its Database of Adverse Event Notifications (DAEN), including numbers of deaths caused by Covid vaccines?

The below TGA screen grab was sent to us on August 16. It shows 462 deaths reported after taking the two Covid vaccines – Pfizer’s mRNA Comirnaty and AstraZeneca’s viral vector. So are these figures accurate? We’ve been trying to find out for a week but the TGA page is consistently unavailable, “being investigated as a priority” (as above). If these (below) figures are accurate, would this data even be allowed into the corporatised media today? With the Australian government’s growing culture of secrecy, their attack on journalists and whistleblowers, and a general state of compliance or muzzling in a fully corporatised health care industry, how can any of us possibly know what is true?

Furthermore, considering Big Pharma’s track record and a Federal Government bringing in even more extreme anti-democratic bills (signed off by Labor; opposed by the Greens) should we not be seriously suspicious of what is going on? Should we take a novel vaccine produced by known corporate criminals or look for cheap, no longer patented well-studied treatments in times of need? Should we take a novel vaccine just so we can participate in a vaccine economy? What has happened to the Left? Is there a Left left? Do we just continue to cancel comedians while the world burns?

Arggh, so many notional questions. Time to get back to the real stuff.

Whales, rainbows,

rain clouds,

sacred country,

and community. While we couldn’t gather or labour with our neighbours directly in Warrnambool, we could still converse in chanced upon public outings, connect and consult digitally and help plant neighbourhood food for the future. Blackwood made useful mulch from a near silent shredder (something we’d never heard of),

Blue Wren and Magpie planted out deciduous and citrus fruit trees,

on common,

unceded land.

While in Warrnambool we were asked to speak on 3WAY community radio. This is our yarn with presenter Gillian Blair, which centred on child-led learning, fermentation, de-monetisation and going off the (corporate-industrial) grid.

So that’s where we’ve been, Dear Reader. That’s what’s been riling us and what’s been grounding us. Of course we can stay in the sickness of the news – the sadness, fear, grief, division, tears and silencing of alternative narratives – but we can also celebrate the utter gift of life we have been given.

Singing and dancing, gardening and playing, loving and connecting do not counter or cancel the sadness, grief and anger we are feeling, rather these former things bring balance and hope to the latter. Asking questions doesn’t mean we have worthy answers to share, rather it means we’re in a process of adding societal substance to the complexity of now, while refusing to seek out reductive political narratives – them/us; right/wrong; pro/anti.

We hope you too are finding balance, laughter and a little dose of Zappa each day.

Home

We are home.
It is male. 

It is female.

Home is we.

Home is a place of many makings,

and scratchings,

and gifts.

We are young ones,

learning to make,

an array,

of goodly things.

We are older ones,

who brew fire and broth,

preserve all manner of sweet things,

throw together weedy, seedy and sprouted lentil salads,

clean and dry nutritious weeds for storing,

sift the char from the potash and use both in different applications,

build ritual places to cry out the old life,

and recycle our mammalian wastes to ferment into humanure.

Our various productions require planning ahead,

in order to create abundance,

and turn such treasure into medicine,

and all before lunchtime,

which is before playtime,

and more play,

before siesta time.

The afternoon’s homemaking sees us expanding the food commons,

bow making with gleaned timbers,

and then on to the tip to bring back more glass frames,

to extend the growing season,

and to make another story of economy,

that is active and accountable,

and love treasuring,

and making.

Thank you Gabrielle Connole for all the wonderful photos above, and the 24 hours we shared together.

Building the Cumquat: an initiation and apprenticeship into life

About three months ago a handsome young strapper from Melbourne dropped out of his day-and-into-the-night job and began a personal pilgrimage. His first week on the road landed him at our home (after coming along to our talk at Melbourne Free University), and he very quickly became part of the family.
In this first week, conversations with James about communal living, the politics of permaculture, access to land, agency and privilege kept cycling around the pragmatic day-to-day tasks of our homelife. One conversation led to another and quite suddenly we were talking about the possibility of building another small dwelling for more SWAPs like James to come and live, labour and learn. We soon began collecting materials from the local tip and skip bins. 
A significant bulk of the material we collected on bicycle.

We hadn’t developed a design at this stage, but the seed for a building apprenticeship was planted. Not only did we want more non-monetary living opportunities for SWAPs, we wanted to empower others by learning the art of shelter making. We were about to advertise the position for a non-monetary, non-institutional apprenticeship when two things occurred: James let us know that he was keen to be an apprentice, and Zephyr was crumpling at school, and his self-esteem was plummeting. This was a wonderful opportunity and we all seized the day. We drew up a plan and brought everyone together to start working on our tiny house that Meg called The Cumquat.

Before we began, we bought Zeph a little something. As parents we thought it important his first porn came from us. He jumped right in.

The book is a great survey of small dwellings from across the world, and Zeph was truly inspired. We bought the lads (James 28, Zephyr 14) a tool bag each and got to work, starting with the stumps and subfloor.

Each day Zeph kept a journal of what he learned.

After an active, full-bodied learning day he would read, and his beautiful, engaged self returned with every day away from school, screens and phones. He read six books over the six weeks, an activity he hadn’t done since his home-ed days.

Woody was keen to help on the site too and knowing how eager he is to join all aspects of life, James had brought back with him his childhood tools to hand on. As you can imagine Woody was pretty chuffed. He took great care to place each item in the tool belt that was Zeph’s when he was Woody’s age.

The build progressed in the rain, snow and rare pockets of sun. Gifts flowed in from the community such as these wonderful windows from our permie friend Vasko, old floorboards from Sarah, structural timbers from Bee and Ra, bearers and cladding from Bob and Beth, sisalation from Koos, roof iron from Pete, and old decking boards from Nicko.

Some days were so wet we dropped our tools and headed into the bush. The learning that takes place out of school has no status in this age of fear and institutional incarceration, but we know it can be explosive and expansive. Seeing our boys thrive through their own will to learn is a joy to behold. All we need to do is provide the right environment, and they do the rest.

Over 95% of the materials we used were salvaged from the local tip and nearby building skips. We borrowed our neighbour’s ute and a friend’s car on a few occasions to collect them, but much was collected on our bicycle trailer. James and Zeph learned all the steps of building and soon became confident users of tools.

There were hard days, cold days and joy-filled days as they grew their knowledge, strength and resilience. After the winter solstice the days became longer, which also meant more eggs being laid in our chicken coup. Thanks chooks!

Chickweed, full of vitamin C and abundant at this time of year, was another local medicine food that fuelled the build, and helped us through our winter colds.

The entire build took 6 weeks (not including the time to collect the materials), and we were all fairly exhausted by the end of it. Zeph, at the ripe age of 14 years old, worked his first 10 hour day.

Give a young person a project in which all their regard and care and skills can shine and you’ll have a gem who has great self-esteem and the ability to transition from centre of the universe to participant of the universe. The Cumquat build was very much part of Zeph’s initiation into life.