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.

Towards a microbiome approach to culture and economy (or, Re-dreaming a gender-distributed science) with Gemma Smithson

~

Hello dear Subscribers and other curious visitors,

Over the past week we’ve hosted three new volunteers at the School of Applied Neopeasantry, who have been learning-helping with the harvesting and storing of this warm season’s abundance. We’ve been harvesting and preserving summer crops and also prepping soils to plant winter crops while there’s still heat in the giving earth, here in Djaara Mother Country.

While we’ve been working hard – doing-saying, lifemaking, neopeasanting, demonstrating the possibilities of living a low-impact ecological-economy – Tully, Anisa, Gemma, and we mob have also engaged in many conversations.

On Gemma’s last day, she asked whether she could record Patrick for a university assignment. Gemma is studying environmental science and has, true to her openness and curiosity, organised two radically different placements for her summer work experience – with Artist as Family and with Parks Victoria. Go Gemma!

We have edited this little interview, recorded on Gemma’s phone in the garden at Tree Elbow, into a twelve minute excerpt, and we’re sharing it as a way of giving an insight into some of the subjects/conversations we have with volunteer-students at the school, this time occurring at the end of a neopeasant lunch, just before we all headed off for siesta.

We hope you enjoy this little moment (12min listen) with Gemma, pictured here with Meg and Patrick.

As always, your input, questions and comments are valuable to our readers and to us, so please feel free to offer up what’s living in you after listening in. Also, we have a place available next month if you’re interested in volunteering and learning with us. Head here for more details and please get in touch if you’re keen to join us.

Active activism

We, Artist as Family, stand firmly with our feet on the soil, as we stand with Jonathan Moylan.

Photo by Rasha Tayeh

For those of you who are out of the loop, Jono is a 25 year old from Newcastle who is facing up to ten years in prison and a $765,000 fine for sending a press release highlighting ANZ’s role in funding the Whitehaven open cut coal mine in north-west NSW. The mine threatens community health and food producing land at Maules Creek, and the health and survival of Koala populations in the Leard State Forest.

We reckon we’re in pretty good company too:

Vandana Shiva

The photo of AaF above was taken by our dear friend Rasha Tayeh. Rasha is, among many things, a documentary filmmaker whose most recent work is The Growing Food Project, a short doco that explores some of Melbourne’s urban agriculture practices and community food initiatives, where people are coming together to build local, fair and sustainable food systems. The film features Patrick’s award winning poem Step by Step.

The film’s premiere is on Wednesday 20th Nov at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) at 7pm.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion of food activists inviting the audience to discuss the benefits of supporting local food systems.

You can purchase your tickets here.

And while on the topic of Patrick’s poetry, a huge congratulations are in order:

Patrick has just completed four years of doctoral research. In a nutshell, Walking for food: regaining permapoesis is:

a biographical thesis that investigates how we might transition to fairer, more just and sustainable communities. It draws on Indigenous knowledges and permaculture modelling in the attempt to demonstrate achievable societal change from the household and community economies out. The thesis contends that modern living is inherently damaging; and on such a scale that personal accountability is degraded. The ecological and social consequences of this are clearly evident, and the thesis challenges us to transition to radically different forms of living where permanent making replaces disposability, and personal accountability is once again performed.

If you’re interested in receiving a PDF of the final draft, please contact us.

And while we’re on the topic of positive and inspiring activists, Perth based singer songwriter Charlie Mgee, AKA Formidable Vegetable Sound System, recently visited the Hepburn Shire during the Swiss Italian Festa where he played a fabulous set of some of his songs from his album, Permaculture: A Rhymer’s Manual.

Charlie’s album focuses on bringing simple concepts of sustainability into the spotlight using the power of music, rhyme and humour to convey the permaculture principles in fresh ways to new audiences. If you get a chance to see Charlie play, we highly recommend you grab it.

And, while on the topic of grabbing: there has been much handlebar grabbing in these here parts as the departure date for our adventure draws near – 6 days!! We have been spotted all over the place as we ride with our panniers fully loaded on practice rides from starboard to port.

If we don’t get a chance to post again for a while, see you on our way up the continent!

Why we do what we do

1. Vandana Shiva

2. No matter how a person tries to frame or revise our culture there’s no getting away from it – wealth delivers pollution.

3. Researchers tell us that the level of happiness peaks just above the poverty line, but we already knew this. Any accumulation of wealth after this point disables the adequate distribution of resources in order for local populations and ecologies to self-renew.

4. 32,000 people were treated last year in Australian hospitals for self-harming. The mental health of the country is flailing. An increasingly toxic food supply system is in part responsible. For a culture whose dominant ideology is based on a growth profit-pollution paradigm, figures like this will only increase.

5. The social and ecological costs of liberal growth economics should now be accounted. The world’s elite impoverish life for everyone, especially the world’s poor. An elite few are currently privatising the atmosphere to create the world’s biggest commodity market – capitalising on pollution. This is sold as a solution – emissions trading and offsetting schemes – just as the Green Revolution was sold as a solution – privatised seeds and chemicals – for world hunger.

6. With ecological economics, community sovereignty of food, water and energy resources, and with permaculture principals you don’t have to wait around for outmoded governments to reenter the real world; to understand soil microbes; to understand a just and sane way; to understand the profit-pollution paradigm; to understand the relationship between biodiversity and collective social health.