Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Health & Disease, Land, Social Gatherings, Urban Projects, Village Development — by Carolyn Payne August 15, 2012
A 16-plot, all abilities access, community garden built by the Beaufort Blokes group in Victoria, Australia.
Beaufort Blokes is a community group supported by the local health department. They meet twice a month — one week they have lunch and play cards and board games, the other week they take a bus trip to visit district attractions.
The Blokes themselves consist of about 25 retired gentlemen ranging in age from 50 to 90 plus. Most have health issues. All have great life experiences and loads of stories to tell.
In 2010 the Blokes group visited the Ballarat community garden and became inspired to start their own. They spent several months trying to find a location for their garden. The local RSL (Returned and Services League) were happy to have the garden installed on their grounds as it helps to create some stability for them, with the continuity of site use. (Many RSLs have been turned into poker machine venues to maintain profitability or the sites have been sold off for house blocks.) By creating an additional community use on this land it helps strengthen it as a community resource.Comments (4)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Comedy Break, Consumerism, Economics, Food Shortages, Society, Village Development, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor August 9, 2012
The upsidedownness of our world really gets to me. The people doing the most critical work (like producing food and clothing) get paid the least, and the people busy producing crap we don’t really need at all get paid much more, and by an order of magnitude. Worse, the people who produce nothing at all, but just shift numbers around on a screen, capitalising on the work of the afore-mentioned two groups, get paid exponentially more again.
Warning: Don’t play if you don’t appreciate bad language!
Somewhere along the line we’ve lost perspective. We’ve lost our sense of wonder, our recognition of the ‘magic’ of the world we live in — that all the best things in life are actually free — instead overlaying an entirely human intervention called ‘the economy’, or ‘the system’:Comments (37)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Project Positions, Society, Village Development — by Ben Humphrey August 2, 2012
The Annapurna Range from the beautiful Pokhara Valley,
the future site of MVEF
For two months in late 2010 I had the pleasure of volunteering with the Sustainable Agriculture Development Program of Nepal (SADP). Situated in an ‘off the beaten track’ valley of Central Nepal, the demonstration farm is surrounded by unreal beauty, including the very prominent Manaslu Massif (group of Himalayan mountains) of the main Himalayan Range, alongside another range visible from the Valley which marks the border of Nepal and Tibet. Many late afternoons were spent watching these Himalayan ranges turn from brilliant white, to orange to vibrant pink as the sun set – something that should be on everyone’s ‘bucket list’. The terraced fields found throughout Asia flank the floor and sides of the valley, and the tops of the valley are largely forested – a source of timber for the community and invaluable habitat for illusive animals that call it home — leopards and possibly the odd tiger included (but that’s a story for another time).Comments (0)
Building, Consumerism, Eco-Villages, Land, Population, Retrofitting, Society, Village Development, peak oil — by David Holmgren July 31, 2012
Introduction by Samuel Alexander of the Simplicity Institute: I’m pleased to announce that David Holmgren, co-originator of the permaculture concept, has just published a Simplicity Institute Report, entitled "Retrofitting the Suburbs for the Energy Descent Future."
Sometimes well-meaning ‘green’ people like to imagine that the eco-cities of the future are going to look either like some techno-utopia — like the Jetsons’ , perhaps, except environmentally friendly — or some agrarian village, where everyone is living in cob houses that they built themselves. The fact is, however, that over the next few critical decades, most people are going to find themselves in an urban environment that already exists — suburbia. In other words, the houses that already exist are, in most cases, going to be the very houses that ordinary people will be living in over the next few decades (in the developed regions of the world, at least). So while it is important to explore what role technology could play in building new houses in more resource and energy efficient ways, and while there is certainly a place for cob houses, etc., for those who have such alternatives as an option, the suburbs are still going to be here for the foreseeable future. We’re hardly going to knock them all down and start again. It is important to recognise this reality, and not get too carried away with eco fairy tales about some distant future (although there is still a place for such visions). Rather than dreaming of a radically new urban infrastructure, a more important and urgent task is to figure out how to make the best of the existing infrastructure — and that is precisely what David Holmgren does in his Simplicity Institute Report, entitled "Retrofitting the Suburbs for the Energy Descent Future." David has been at the forefront of the environmental movement for several decades now, both in Australia and worldwide, and this essay is another example of how he constantly pushes at the edge of the sustainability debate. He is a penetrating thinker that deserves our most serious attention.
Retrofitting the Suburbs for the Energy Descent Future
(Simplicity Institute Report 12i, 2012)
1. Suburbia as Default Human HabitatComments (6)
Courses/Workshops, Developments, Economics, Ethical Investment, Financial Management, People Systems, Society, Village Development — by Nick Huggins
It’s been three years in the making — researching, designing, testing the application, and now it’s ready for the world to tap in and download the knowledge.
During my PDC back in 2009 at the PRI, I sat there as Geoff Lawton was going through the many applications that permaculture covers. All I could think about was how many different business ideas I had come up with that could follow the movements three core ethics and make a profit at the same time. Limitless, absolutely limitless are the possibilities to take a niche and run with it and make it a success.
While the opportunities for me were boundless it was so clear what I had to do. I couldn’t work out why others were not seeing what I could see. Stepping back and really observing what was happening, I saw that 90% of the PDC graduates I was encountering had hit what I call a ‘permaculture brick wall’, or as Daniel Parra Hensel described in an email to me, "post PDC syndrome" — Paralysis through (way to much) analysis and not knowing where to start, or just reverting back to old careers because that’s safe for them.Comments (19)
Aid Projects, Building, Community Projects, Courses/Workshops, Energy Systems, Land, Society, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Alice Gray July 28, 2012
It was on the second week of the PermaNegev course that I arranged a visit to the small village of Herbaiet a Nabi in the south Hebron Hills. We were going to inspect the renewable energy installations put in place there by the Israeli NGO Comet-ME (www.comet-me.org), and to gain a better understanding of the politics of dispossession that form the ever-present background to the lives of the rural Arab communities of the Palestinian West Bank and the Israeli Negev. Since our focus for the week was ‘sustainable living: harvesting resources and managing wastes’, this fitted in well with the program, and was a great opportunity for students to see permaculture principles being applied on a number of levels, in a very challenging situation. As it turned out, the trip worked even better than I had originally planned, and gave much food for thought, some of which I am still digesting!Comments (5)
Eco-Villages, Village Development — by Samuel Alexander July 21, 2012
The ‘Transition Town’ movement burst onto the scene merely six years ago in Ireland, and yet already there are almost two thousand Transition Towns around the world. There are dozens right here in Australia. Given that some people are saying this is one of the most promising and important social movements on the planet at present, it is timely to ask ourselves: what exactly is a Transition Town?
In order to understand the concept of transition, one first needs to understand that the transition movement is a response to a certain set of social, ecological, and economic problems. Over the last two centuries, industrial societies have experienced unprecedented economic growth, fuelled by a cheap and abundant supply of coal, gas, and most importantly, oil. While this brought with it many benefits, industrialisation also has an ominous dark side that today threatens to overwhelm those benefits.Comments (4)
Consumerism, Eco-Villages, Economics, Education, General, Society, Village Development, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor July 20, 2012
We’ve mentioned the re-ruralisation movement happening in debt-ridden Greece before, and here’s a video by German TV on the topic.
For decades people, worldwide, have been flowing from the countryside in to the cities.Comments (9)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Economics, Financial Management, Food Shortages, People Systems, Society, Village Development — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor July 19, 2012
The precariousness of the economy is becoming increasingly apparent to the masses. Indeed, every day more and more people are falling below the bread line, or are spending sleepless nights wondering how to extricate themselves from the situations they find themselves in. In some ways, this is good — being short-sighted creatures, we don’t seem to be able to conversate on issues, even if critically important, if we don’t realise their direct implications for ourselves personally. Actually, I somewhat take that back. We truly do, as a race, have a powerful capacity to empathise with others, despite not being in their shoes, but the system we’ve wrapped ourselves up in has separated us all out, disconnecting and isolating us from almost everyone but our closest friends and family, and, to a large extent, often even those. This atomisation, and the empathy-eradication program that accompanies it, means that broadscale collaborative discussion on the great need for a widespread socio-political-economic transitional overhaul will never get beyond niche blog posts and private conversations, unless more and more people start to feel the pinch and wake up.
We do seem to be, slowly, reaching this point.Comments (6)
Consumerism, Courses/Workshops, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Energy Systems, Society, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Zaia Kendall July 18, 2012
My husband Tom and I live with my 11 year old son in a small Queenslander on Australia’s Sunshine Coast. Our property is 34 acres, which we have converted to a permaculture demonstration site. We now run permaculture and self-reliance courses on the property.
Geese and chickens in the resource paddock, and goats on dam wall
Tom comes from a farming background. When he grew up there was no money or time (or a phone) to call someone when something broke down. So he learned from a very early age to fix things himself with whatever was available. He also learned that everything can become a resource, and knows what to look out for. A lot of people we know call us and ask us whether we would like something they are about to throw away. We hardly ever say no. Everything may have a use sometime.Comments (3)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, People Systems, Society, Village Development — by David Bollier July 17, 2012
MST: The Landless Workers Movement
Raj Patel has been tracking the pathologies of the global food system for many years. An activist and academic who teaches at the UC Berkeley Center for African Studies, Patel has just published a second, updated edition of his 2008 book, Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System.
The problem with the food system is not that we don’t produce enough calories to eradicate hunger, Patel notes. It’s that the food system has its own priorities of institutional consolidation and profit, which means that more than one billion people in the world are malnourished and two billion are overweight – which is worse than when the first edition of Patel’s book came out.Comments (0)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Community Projects, Consumerism, Eco-Villages, Economics, People Systems, Society, Village Development, peak oil — by George Monbiot
This is the fate of young people today: excluded, but forbidden to opt out.
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.
Hounded by police and bailiffs, evicted wherever they stopped, they did not mean to settle here. They had walked out of London to occupy disused farmland on the Queen’s estates surrounding Windsor Castle. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that didn’t work out very well. But after several days of pursuit, they landed two fields away from the place where modern democracy is commonly supposed to have been born.Comments (7)
Aid Projects, Building, Community Projects, Land, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Alex McCausland
Two hundred kilometers south of Addis we turn left at a little town called Achamo, and dive off the tarmac into a dusty, bumpy adventure somewhere in the middle of nowhere in the green rolling steppes of the south Ethiopian countryside. This is my first foray into Hadiyya country. We’ve just passed Siltie, my own tribe (by marriage). We’re en route into the deep south, but this little foray off the usual 14 hour slog down to Konso is going to be something different. The countryside is all populated. Open farmland, mostly beans and maize, dotted with little settlements. Donkeys, gangs of skinny cattle and groups of bearded men out on a Sunday morning stroll punctuate the forty minutes of grinding along the rough climes of the roadway, till we pull into the dusty market town of Bonosha. I call our contact, Tegene, and tell him we’ve arrived. He sends a couple of local lads to show us the way. They jump into the back of the car and direct us out of town. As it turns out, I’m off to do my very first commercial consultancy as a permaculturalist. It’s quite exciting really.Comments (8)
Community Projects, Eco-Villages, Seeds, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Village Development, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor July 10, 2012
Current evidence indicates that New Zealand may well be "the youngest country on earth". Possible fellow competitors for this claim are Greenland, Iceland and Madagascar. All of these landscapes were so isolated they managed to avoid human settlement until relatively recent times. But these entrants in the competition look to be a couple of centuries behind — all being settled prior to 1000AD, unlike New Zealand, which is believed to have had no human presence prior to 1200AD.
With campaigns and videos like the one at top, New Zealand has managed to generate a kind of green aura around itself. Stunning Lord of the Rings landscapes, pristine snow-capped mountain ranges, dripping forests, clean rivers and an outdoor lifestyle to kill for, all spring to mind amongst millions of people worldwide who have never been there, but dream of going. It is a gorgeous country, to be sure, but that’s not the whole story….Comments (3)
Consumerism, Economics, People Systems, Society, Village Development, peak oil — by Samuel Alexander July 2, 2012
Below, Samuel Alexander summarises his new Simplicity Institute Report, which discusses ‘voluntary simplification’ in the context of Joseph Tainter’s theory of collapse.
The full report, ‘Resilience through Simplification,’ is available here (360kb PDF).
A society or other institution can be destroyed by the cost of sustaining itself. — Joseph Tainter
In 1988 Joseph Tainter published his seminal work, The Collapse of Complex Societies, in which he presented an original theory of social complexity that he offered as the best explanation for the collapse of civilisations throughout history. Tainter’s theory essentially holds that human societies become more socially complex as they solve the problems they face, and while this complexity initially provides a net benefit to society, eventually the benefits derived from increasing complexity diminish and the relative costs begin to increase. There comes a point, Tainter argues, when all the energy and resources available to a society are required just to maintain the society, at which point further problems that arise cannot be solved and the society then enters a phase of deterioration or even rapid collapse. Not only is Tainter’s theory of historical interest, many believe it has implications for how we understand the world today.Comments (1)