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Crossing the equator – the Jakarta to Batam moment

While the electrical experience in Jakarta was fascinating and relatively complex,

the hybrid smog from motor exhaust and cigarettes was heavy going.

We were very much part of the traffic; part of the problem; part of the toxicity. Since arriving in Dili and travelling west by land and sea to Jakarta, we’ve found that hitch hiking is impossible. There are taxi drivers on every street eager to pick up as soon as there’s the smallest intimation that a lift is required. It took about two hours in a cab from the railway station to drive about 20kms, grinding through one continuous traffic jam to where we’d booked a room for a few nights in an apartment building called the Casablanca East Tower.

A $30 a night room with this view.

Since we left Vincent in Surabaya, he being the final thread of relationship woven for us by Yanti way back in Dili, we are socially anchorless in Jakarta. We went in search of connection.

We explored back streets,

and street food warungs,

and were thankful for the delicious gastronomic arts of this city.

We loved the simplicity,

and flavours, and it was here Patrick fell in love with gado gado – an Indonesian salad served with a peanut sauce dressing.

We beheld richness in the poorer suburbs,

and a green emptiness in the bourgeoise ones.

Afternoon storms became a pattern while we were in Jakarta, and we got caught out in one.

Coming across a truck selling sweet potato, our cold climate farming bodies dreamt up crop trials for this coming summer. If tuber vegetables can replace cereals at home, we are another step closer to unshackling from monocultures. While this may sound eco-ideological, it was actually our love of sweet potato for breakfast at Ego and Yanti’s where this desire grew.

We came across a man repairing shoes on the street. Patrick handed his over, and we walked on for a while,

exploring streets inhabited by the transported abundance of Java’s rural productivity,

and stopping here and there to savour the goodly fare.

Between deluges the cobbler had glued, re-stiched and polished Patrick’s shoes. His handiwork cost a mere $3.50.

We were happy to spend a few nights in Jakarta getting high,

and getting down low,

and discovering communities growing food together,

such as Green Farm.

We were happiest in this city either playing music as a family, trying new foods or exploring productive gardens.

However, try as we did with the locals,

we really just consumed food, returned it to leaky, decrepit plumbing systems, and absorbed volumes of pollution. We also got fairly pissed off, at one point.

We booked a boat to the island of Batam, just south of Singapore, and had to stay another night in Jakarta before it set off late the following night. So we took another room in an apartment building. At 9am, dressed and ready to explore the neighbourhood, we caught a lift to the ground floor, only to find we couldn’t get out. We went back up the elevator to a number of floors to try to get help and understand what was going on. One man we met told us people are locked in the building until 10am. WTF! Incredulous, we descended to the basement, budged open a door, and after stumbling around in the dark entered an apocalyptic passageway,

which led to an underground carpark that had no lighting. After a little orientation we came across a bolt of natural sunlight descending into this creepy underworld, indicating a road out. As we entered daylight and approached the security guards lingering at the laneway behind the building – thinking they were going to chastise us for leaving before 10am – Patrick started penning this message on the translation app:

It read: “You cannot incarcerate people in a building against their will, it is an abuse of human rights.” But the guards looked unfazed as we drew up next to them, so we walked on, away from that strange moment into the mayhem of street life, where we practiced the art of crossing busy roads,

by doing what the locals do – walk out in front of the traffic, gesturing to motorists to slow down or stop. We crossed many roads during the morning looking for an op-shop to buy Woody a t-shirt. He’s a fast growing boy, especially in the tropics.

The roads are anarchical here; they hold their own flow and logic,

and while there are few footpaths and everyone seems to drive anywhere they can, including against the traffic, it is not entirely impossible to be a pedestrian.

On our last afternoon in Indonesia’s capital we reflected on the city and its future in an energy descent reality.

There’s a makeshift spirit here and an absence of safetyism that will likely aid residents, and while the examples of retrosuburban farming we saw in the wealthier parts of Jakarta may well keep producer knowledges alive, the infrastructure collapse that is already advanced in this metropolis, could undermine any such resilience.

In our final hours in Jakarta we played music, and slept and swam,

before joining the traffic, again, to the port, to board this boat, the KM Kelud.

We’d wanted economy tickets for both the affordability and sociability but they’d sold out, so we paid for lodgings in bunk rooms.

$70 per bunk for a 40 hour voyage, and all meals included.

We found we were again the only caucasian travellers on the boat sans one young couple, perhaps Dutch, who had no thirst to converse and held a permanent look of worry in their faces. Without any phone signal, our translation app was rendered useless so we defaulted to body language with fellow passengers, were invited many times to make selfie, and practiced what little Indonesian we’ve gathered.

After several weeks of travelling west, we are now heading north again.

On the way to the port the taxi driver warned us about our belongings both at the port and on the boat. We have heeded such advice along the way, and used the lockers provided on the boat, however, neither in Jakarta nor on this boat have we felt unsafe.

We spent July 6 at sea on Indonesian waters, crossing the equator. July 6 is an important day for both Indonesians and West Papuans, as it marks the anniversary of the Biak massacre of possibly hundreds of West Papuans by the Indonesian army, 26 years ago (as Alison Bevege reports). A US mining giant, Freeport, and the Indonesian government make considerable wealth from their joint colonial project in West Papua.

There is no getting away from it, colonisation is insidious. It is in this boat. It is in the food on this boat. It is the fuel powering this boat. Industrial civilisation is nothing more than extravagant displays of colonialism rebranded as global development. While the machine of Empire sets out to conquer and destroy, perhaps all we have as a meaningful antidote is connection, even at 3am when this photo was taken. (From left Jernih, Meg, Shanty and Wenti).

Around 2.30am as we approached Batam our fellow bunk bedders’ phones came to life. It had been an enjoyable 36 hours without signal, but all that changed in the early hours. Phone addiction is next level in Indonesia. It was a media frenzy and we just went along for the ride.

The blurriness of us compared to Jernih and her husband speaks not only of device foreshortening but also of how tired our lil family felt in this moment.

Both nights on the boat our sleep was disturbed with multiple comings and goings of people, as well as their pre-downloaded media, which was played at full volume throughout the night.

We had perhaps vague, even romantic notions of an island oasis before arriving in Batam,

only to find a fully industrial port city,

where the empire had long since come, and dumped its shit.

There were remnants of ecological culture on the street. The indigenous mob here has been reduced to just 5 remaining Orang Darat people.

A culture replaced by a civilisation that has little regard for life.

These practical baskets made us laugh thinking about the local council back home, neatly ticking their sustainability boxes, rolling out ever more coloured plastic bins to the streets to organise (and hide) the various wastes of we residents.

Once again, the pollution was overwhelming in this city, whether it be cigarette smoke, burning plastic waste,

or motor fumes, which sat as an unpleasant smog above this produce market.

Motor bikes and scooters bellowed fumes across all the lovely food tables. The antioxidant medicine of chilli almost negated by the immune wrecking smog.

We bought salak, banana and longans,

and we booked another $30 room for two nights. Patrick slept for two days as he is struggling most with the pollution, while Meg went on little exploratory journeys into the city with Woody, and researched the next leg.

A big part of this trip is to put ourselves in situations where we are out of our comfort zones, to have our Magpie and Blue Wren feathers ruffled, and our Blackwood branches shaken. We are here to learn, to be jimmied open. There are things we keep learning over and over about ourselves. That we are creatures of place, creatures of a sacred Mother Country. This trip is not open ended, and although we are travelling slowly in industrial terms, we are moving quite swiftly towards India. Where we can, we are trying to stay put in one place so we have time and spaciousness to explore where we are, from the inside out. We love markets, hot food warungs, and produce stores, and understanding how other people do food.

The lesson we keep learning over and over is that we are not city people. The hustle and bustle overwhelms us and again and again we gravitate to the backstreets. The side alleys, the quieter moments. Gardens and green spaces, where our lungs and souls can breathe. We are grateful to the cities for enabling our transit, but we don’t understand what they are for and why people choose to live in such places. But that’s of course a long civilisational story, which is different for each of us.

So, here we are. Open and willing to learn, feeling the estrangement while trying to see the beauty of every moment.

Hot chips & cigarettes (or, how government regulators fail us, again and again)

A post by Dr Patrick Jones, audio version (approx. 5mins)

 

There’s a common argument in polite Australia that goes something like this, ‘Governments regulate industry and all is well in the world. We don’t need to watch corporate activity, our regulators have that all covered.’ But is this assumption naive and hazardous to our health?

I accompanied Blackwood and some friends to watch the cricket at the MCG last week. The advertising at the ground that bombarded us throughout the day included fast food, alcohol, gambling, and microbe extermination products. You can see this for yourself if you watch the highlights.

During the day, Blackwood, now a confirmed cricket tragic like his dad, was kindly offered a bucket of hot chips, and I agreed to let him have it. Although cigarette companies are banned from sports advertising (which took decades of activism including Australia’s own unique chapter, BUGAUP), this week I discovered that this small bucket of chips that Blackwood consumed may have had the same level of toxins as him smoking a bunch of cigarettes.

I’ve been invited to write a paper on environmental poisons for an Italian academic journal, which is providing an opportunity to update my research regarding environmental pollutants and toxins in both bodies and biomes. So, I thought I’d use this period (over the next several months) to share snippets of my research and publish interesting morsels here for readers.

This week I’m taking a look at the humble potato chip (or French fry, if you’re from the US), from the vantage point of a 2018 study on fried food toxins.

Our taste receptors are excited by salty and fatty foods. The fast food industry exploits our weak spot for such nutrients or chemical compounds, which were not so prevalent as we evolved into a species with unique human taste abilities.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, I’m probably not telling you anything new. However, if you’ve been looking for research to back up your hunch that fried hot chips are likely very toxic in the body, then please read on.

Our family has been avoiding hot chips bought at a store for many years now, preferring to grow our own spuds and animal fats organically and cooking them at home. But, every now and then (like at the cricket) we soften our stance and indulge. Is this such a stupid thing to do?

A study entitled, Chronic non-communicable disease risks presented by lipid oxidation products in fried foods (2018), although limited in its frame of reference – i.e. it would have been more useful to switch butter for ghee, and add animal fats as part of the trial – it is nonetheless a good indicator of what we have suspected, intuitively for some time, that is – if you are buying hot chips from fast food outlets, perhaps don’t.

The study finds that in a “154g potato chip serving [the] aldehyde contents are not dissimilar to those arising from the smoking of a (daily) allocation of 25 tobacco cigarettes…”

That there exists cell-damaging, carcinogenic aldehyde toxins in supposedly benign foods like fried potato chips is yet another example of government regulation not serving people, but rather serving the profit interests of industry foremost, while simultaneously eroding human health.

Of course anyone paying attention knows governments and industry now sleep in the same bed, and as we saw so outstandingly with the Covid response, there is no longer even a covering up of their flagrant lovemaking.

To have fried foods duly regulated by government oversight is never going to occur within a political system that has been captured by every large industry across the globe. Such oversight can only come from individuals, households and communities getting informed from sources they can trust, and acting on what they find out.

But if we cannot trust, or haven’t got the time to research the things we consume, then living by a simple precautionary principle, like ‘if it’s fast it’s probably toxic,’ is going to serve us well, and keep us from the ever grubby hands of the pharmaceutical or illness industry.

Your comments, research and experiences with environmental toxins that have been enabled by falsely regulated industries and corporatised journalism, are most welcome here.

And lastly if you’d like to listen to a couple of sweet evolutionary biologists discussing the scientific paper mentioned in this piece, head here.

(The citation for the paper referenced is: Grootveld M, Percival BC, Grootveld KL. Chronic non-communicable disease risks presented by lipid oxidation products in fried foods. HepatoBiliary Surg Nutr 2018;7(4):305-312. doi: 10.21037/hbsn.2018.04.01)C

I’m closing out this post with a peg of Blackwood harvesting spuds in our home garden last year. Growing our own food is always the best medicine, and it means that low-income households like ours can afford organically grown food that is non-reliant upon the vulgar boudoir of the state-corporate nexus.

Overcoming fear in the New Year (news, views and crews from the neopeasant home front)

You can listen to Meg and Patrick reading this blog post here (9 mins):

 

Hello Dear Reader,

It’s been a while. We hope your social season has been a time of reflection, growth and joy, and if there’s been pain or grief in your world we hope you have both support and inner resources that are aiding you.

We’ve been away visiting friends and family and have returned to an abundant garden with all the rain a Djaara Country summer could hope for. Here is a vista of Tree Elbow University in early January 2024:


We’d like to share a few things with you in this post and ask you some questions about the year ahead.

First up, we’d like to introduce you to our brilliant mate, Catie Payne’s new podcasting project. Here is the second episode in which Catie and Meg have a spirited yarn.

Catie’s podcast, Reskillience, is a weekly dive into the lives of those around the world who are observing civilisational collapse and are acting in a colour wheel of ways that are contiguous with village rebuilding and living a more beautiful world. Or, in Catie’s words, it is for people who are interested in how “…remembering our place in nature’s systems, re-learning traditional skills, and re-claiming our wildness can calm apocalyptic fears and create a healthier culture that produces less emissions/zombies.” We highly recommend you subscribe, share and support her efforts.

We have collaborated with Catie before, and greatly admire what she brings to the world.

We have also been reading useful Substacks such as Why the Great Reset will fail and eloquent and wise stacks such as Deep Resistance: Philosophical Practices of Sanity (Part 1). We’ve been observing the growing threat to dissident thinkers and commentators such as CJ Hopkins and tuning into Bret Weinstein again, one of the most articulate biologists of our time (who thankfully isn’t staying in his lane). Here he is giving his take on the post Covid moment in this interview with a former Fox-News-gone-rogue journalist. While you’re over on Rumble, you might also like to check out Useful Idiots.

Another dissident voice we think worthy of our attention, is Whitney Webb, whose focus is on investigating power and corruption. Like others (including from inside the establishment), Webb is predicting an orchestrated ‘cyber pandemic’ that will likely be blamed (at least by the establishment) on nefarious actors like Iran and co., which may (for some amount of time) bring the internet down, give more cause for governments to re-instate a state of emergency, and thus again the opportunity to erode human rights under the banner of ‘making us all safe’ with ‘safe and effective’ measures.

Here’s a peg of Webb’s most famous book:

Webb, more than us, has felt the brunt of the Censorship Industrial Complex. According to Wikispooks, links to Webb’s domain TheLastAmericanVagabond.com have been “automatically shadowbanned by Reddit at the admin level for some time. In October 2020, YouTube removed the channel of The Last American Vagabond, and in February 2021, the subscription service Patreon banned the site.” She is also a permie and is not just a researcher, but is living the change, in Chile.

If we are not all expecting the next big thing that will attempt to give global power the license to further punish or disappear dissidents and further reward conformists, we are not going to be in a mental state or communitarian position to resist the next stage of totalitarianism as it is likely to unfold in 2024. So it would be wise to organise and collectivise more, whatever the future brings.

What are your strategies for resilience? Do you become immobilised by fear in a crisis, and if so what are you doing now to address this? How reliant are you on money? How much debt are you carrying? Will your employer again coerce you into complying with the global agenda? How will you cope when you’re once again gaslit by friends and family who are following the script? What have you learnt about power during Covid? Where lies the brittleness and dysfunction of totalitarianism, and how can you exploit these, while not breaking laws or exposing yourself to persecution?

With what Webb is forecasting, we are wondering how we might all stay connected, should the internet really go ‘dark,’ or some other ’emergency’ unfolds, when the only ‘media’ available to us here in Australia is, alas, the government operative known as the ABC, or whatever the equivalent is in your neck of the woods. If you haven’t noticed the gradual slide of the ABC from journalism to propaganda over the past 30 years, you might want to place a bullshit filter over the big stories they present, especially anything regarding the pharma-military industrial complex that rules US congress.

Have those of you in Australia noticed how the ABC logo and the word Emergency have become entwined?

~

For the last several years we have been rebuilding our book library and other offline resources that will be helpful in a post-internet world, and we are curious if this is something you’ve been working on too. What are you doing to build information and critical thinking resilience for either an internet-less or heavily censored future? We would be grateful if you share in the comments some of your thinking here.

Going into this new year, in order to control whatever narrative needs to be controlled, those in power (political, financial or ideological) will attempt to further silence dissident voices, and this is why all around the western world governments are bringing in censorship infrastructure in the forms of misinformation bills, while gaslighting dissidents as being spreaders of mis-, dis- and even malinformation – facts or opinions likely to be true but that hurt a government’s reputation and therefore must be censored.

We believe the dissemination of critical and dissident thought will become a greater challenge in the year ahead, which may well lead to a new golden era of political graffiti. The diversity of Covid dissidents and heterodox thinkers from across the political spectrum has been extremely effective at exposing the failures, cowardice and corruption of the state/Pharma nexus during Covid, but how will this occur should we enter an internet dark period?

We are asking a whole lotta questions, but we are not fearing the future. The present and future are filled with possibilities and this year we will again face up to whatever fear or global ’emergency’ comes our way. We will not fear tyranny, we will mock it, dance with it and eventually compost it. And most importantly, we will receive our most critical information not from experts but from Mother Country – the fruiting, flowering, regenerating flow of wisdoms that will help us overcome the unfolding “neofeudal technocratic biosecurity surveillance state,” which in real terms just signals the collapse of global civilisation.

Life cycles before news cycles. Ecological participation before anthropocentric team sports ideology.

Before we sign off, we’d like to end with a joyous introduction to two newcomers at Tree Elbow.

We first met Jordan and Antoinette from Happen Films when they came to film Creatures of Place with us several years ago. That little film about our life, economy and culture making has reached some 2.4 million views and has brought us many volunteers from across the world to labour and learn with us. We have stayed in touch with Jordan and Antoinette over the years and they made another film about our working with goats and neighbours to reduce bushfire risk a few years later.

Jordan is now back in Australia after living in NZ, and will be living with us here at Tree Elbow. We are so looking forward to sharing our life with this thoughtful, talented, switched on and humourous young man.

Here he is helping us with the post rabbit hunt processing. Welcome Jordan!

The other newcomer we are excited to share our space with is Prunella vulgaris, aka Self Heal, a wondrous and useful herb that has invited herself into the Tree Elbow garden.

We look forward to learning from her and from Jordan, and Catie, as well as a rich cohort of diverse specimens, human and more-than, all labouring to make the world a more beautiful, more abundant place.

We hope 2024 is a year in which you too can work towards composting fear and pitchforking into your gardens, balcony pots, farms or community allotments, the psychopaths of world power, and play your part in the step-by-step renewal of eldership, mentorship and village rebuilding.

I am frightened by the culture I was born into (a list poem)

This week we examine our fear, Patrick writes a poem on the subject, and we listen to an elder from the past on the nature of fear, which we offer as critical listening for this present moment and immanent future.

Here’s the audio of Patrick’s poem, I am frightened by the culture I was born into (5 min listen). The text of which (with links) is below:

 

I am frightened by the culture I was born into

Yeah well my phone’s fucked and they won’t give me a new sim until I get vaxxed so I gave in, just got the first shot. I need the phone to log onto my computer for work. Work also breathing down my neck with a deadline of the 17th for declaring my ‘status’. So whatever. I hope the bastard thing kills me. (Melbourne academic, email to Patrick Jones, 1 December 2021)

I am frightened by the culture I was born into. I am scared of scientific reductionism. I fear the aggregation of poisons from industry and the increasing intransigence to heterodox thinkers by governments and universities. I am worried by what the expert class brings to Country. It distresses me few read global development as an extension of colonialism, and in its currency colonialism is again unseen by mob morality.

I feel ill the educated are uncritical of the State-Pharma nexus. I fear the results when doctors and researchers who raise red flags are demoted, disappeared and censored. I’m terrified by the many who don’t question and who in their shame attack the other others. I’m sickened by the profits of patriarchal medicine and how this profit blooms in biomes and inflames bodies. It distresses me medical journals have become “information laundering operations for the pharmaceutical industry.” My gut turns with the lack of consent. Communitarian is bottom up, grassroots consensus not powering over the other from above. I’m dismayed by friends who, having been coerced – having to feed their families – now turn on me parroting, ‘White-supremacist! Conspiracy theorist! Anti-vaxxer!’

Even if I refuse directly what industry brings to Country, the rush now on gene engineering and editing means my family and community are likely not free from the spillovers, mutations and contaminants. Antidepressants are awash in the riparians of Country. Nanoplastics in every cell, every biota, and thus in our food, our bodies. Body and food sovereignty is dying, and how I’m reading it, the single greatest threat to life is the romanticisation of progress leading us all into digital prisons cheered on by the movement I’ve served my whole adult life – the Green-Left – until now. Diversity at all costs, except for Them, the deplorable contagions!

I’m scared that people like us, who will again refuse the coming assault of biotechs, will be further discriminated against. I’m alarmed and shocked at how few want to examine the coercion, intolerance and abuse of the past few years. I’m predicting a future of incarceration for those who resist Pharmacolonisation, and I feel no hope for a society that’s constructed “man-made mass death” as its modus operandi, and this fear is traumatising to me.

I will continue to serve the worlds of the world, and serve the communities of life who stand for life, and in doing so stand against the cult of Scientism, against “patriarchy’s project”. In this continuum of service I will name my fears alongside my shame and grief, and cry out my sacred, old briney waters into the rich, life-bringing humus of Mother Country, for anyone or anything connected to hear. I won’t wield my sword in war-like reaction, even in chains I will dance with it like my old people before me.


 

We’d like to add to this post a little zooming out. Here is the wisdom of Krishnamurti on the subject of fear, and the possibility of ending it (25 mins):

Your thoughts and feelings at this time are precious to us. What are your current fears? What processes do you employ to face them? And anything related, or not, is most welcome.

Sending spring renewal and warmth to you, or autumnal abundance (if you’re north), Dear Reader.

Composting Moloch, returning to the cob, clay & bramble of Pandora, Mother Country (with Joel Gray)

In our latest video, Patrick shares a rich, long-form yarn with English artist, Joel Gray. Together they traverse the sticky, dominating, Promethean go-it-alone world of the machine, of the all-consuming Moloch. They arrive at a composting, cob-building place, restoring Pandora’s fermenting vessel, her Gaia place, her Mother Country – the entanglements and gossipy liveliness of tending the village seeds beyond transhumanism.

Links to Joel’s collaborative work are embedded in the video, plus other material from both his and our worlds. And, here’s a link to Joel’s initial comment that lead to this abundant connection.

We hope you enjoy this yarn as much as we did making it. Love and power to the brothers and sisters who are learning to dance with gut (Pandora), heart (Epimetheus) and mind (Prometheus) integration.

Here’s the audio-only version (1:34 mins):

 

And here’s the video:

As always, your comments and pitchforkings are more than welcome. But before we sign off we’d like to share a moment of Hephaestian crafting from Blackwood and his friend Django this week.