Tag Archives | Books

Introducing 470

Science fiction influenced my thinking as a youth, especially stories that featured ecological limits (eg Dune and The Dispossessed). In the early 1970s, the modelling of the Club of Rome “Limits to Growth” report provided a context for the conception of permaculture – an ecological, creative and humane response to the Limits to Growth facing the whole of humanity.

In turn, permaculture and “back-to-the-land” self-reliant simplicity of those years inspired new generations of writers including Jackie French in Australia and Starhawk in the USA to write stories about futures of ecological consequence. More recently, a proliferation of books focused on climate change has created a new genre “Cli-Fi” that use climate science as context for stories about the future.

Linda Woodrow’s 470 is certainly Cli-Fi: great storytelling in the context of the near-term consequences of climate change driven natural disasters. But it is much more. Beyond the meticulous background research that all good writers of fiction do to make their stories real, Linda Woodrow also draws on decades of living close to the land where her story is set. That life applying and writing about permaculture has provided a broad and deep reservoir of experience to draw on in crafting this gripping story of persistence, empowerment and joy in the face of fear, loss and despair.

From the portrayal of geography transformed by natural forces to heroic and dogged persistence of volunteer natural disaster workers, the drama of personal relationships, fleeting and long enduring, and the details of providing the essentials of food, shelter and health care constrained by non-negotiable realities, Woodrow both entertains and informs the reader. Far from didactic, let alone judgemental, the portrayal of characters connected by blood and circumstance in 470 is sensitive to human frailties, contradictions and vulnerabilities. She gives hope that adversity can nurture profound and enduring personal growth and the slow emergence of self-governing communities at the household, neighbourhood and bioregional scale. While permaculture is barely mentioned in the book, its influence is everywhere in the story from homestead-scale organic food production, to ecological building, appropriate technology, botanical medicine, tree crops for a changing climate, design against natural disaster and intentional community decision making.

Beyond these recognisable permaculture related themes, 470 provides a glimpse of how environmental and countercultural thinking over the last 50 years has found expression, suppression, migration and re-emergence in Australian society by showing the flowering of those influences over three generations of a family lineage.

These were reasons enough for me, and our team at Melliodora Publishing, to jump at the opportunity to publish 470 as contributing to our mission to publish books “that fill a gap in the permaculture-related literature and support individuals in their personal permaculture journey”.

My own dabbling in fiction began more than a decade ago with my “Aussie Street” presentations portraying the transformation of suburbia from the “Golden Age of Growth” to retrosuburbia in the Second Great Depression of the 2020s. This became written word for the first time as a chapter in our bestselling RetroSuburbia: the downshifter’s guide to a resilient future, and the basis for our next publication, Our Street, a picture book by Beck Lowe and permaculture illustrator Brenna Quinlan.

Consequently, this jump into publishing a novel is more evolutionary than revolutionary but also involves new challenges in the very competitive market for fiction. The work by Richard Telford in conceiving and Maria Penna in crafting a beautiful and striking cover true to the author’s work is an important contribution to gaining wider attention in the crowded bookshelves, whether in store or online. We trust our regular readers from permaculture and kindred networks will grasp opportunities to gift and promote 470 to their families, friends and workmates as a way to start empowering discussions, instead of having ineffective and debilitating arguments about the minutiae of climate science or the motivations behind its detractors. While it is clearly too late to avoid “dangerous climate change” by progressive policies, it’s never too late for all of us to retrofit our behaviour to be more resilient in the face of the coming changes, and begin to build new household and community economies in the shadow of the old one that is doomed no matter how much money governments print.

For teenagers and young adults searching for meaningful and brave action in the face of societal dysfunction, 470 provides a broad pallet of possibilities. For families raising young children, 470 shows how raising the next generation requires us to be bold and brave in finding a pathway through the vortex of change we face. For older people with resources to reorganise for the non-negotiable changes of aging, 470 shows it is possible to do so in ways that help the next generations to face the future.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has shown everyone that our affluent technological society can be brought to a standstill by forces of nature so small they hardly qualify as living, while the bushfire summer showed us that despite our technology, humanity remains at the mercy of the weather that Mother Nature delivers each day and each season.

Imagination is essential to avoiding existential threats and creating the best of possible worlds. Linda Woodrow’s deep well of imagination helps us in this essential task.

 

David Holmgren, Melliodora Publishing
Hepburn, Victoria

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Degrowth in the Suburbs: A Radical Urban Imaginary

Samuel Alexander, from the Simplicity Collective has just published a new book, Degrowth in the Suburbs: A Radical Urban Imaginary, co-authored with Professor Brendan Gleeson, with a foreword by David Holmgren.

The book addresses a central dilemma of the urban age: how do we make suburban landscapes sustainable in the face of planetary ecological crises? The authors argue that degrowth, a planned contraction of overgrown economies, is the most coherent paradigm for suburban renewal. They depart from the anti-suburban sentiment of much environmentalism to show that existing suburbia can be the centre-ground of transition to a new social dispensation based on the principle of enlightened material and energy restraint.

David’s foreword to the book begins thus:

Historians charting the trajectory of industrial civilisation will note the remarkable disconnect between the status accorded to “evidence based decision making” in our culture and the relentless pursuit of perpetual growth on a finite planet. While the contradiction has always been clear to the simplest of folks, the publication of the Limits to Growth report nearly half a century ago gave us the means to better understand the complex system dynamics that would characterise humanity’s overshoot of global limits.

Because these understandings coincided with the oil crises and resultant recessions, in affluent western countries there was some public discourse, and even early action, to consider the possibility of futures other than ones of continuous growth. On the fringes of society a flourishing counterculture gave birth to lifestyles and concepts (including permaculture) that have been the source of a continuous lineage of creative change. Some of these fringe ideas – such as the internet – have contributed to powerful creative action that has transformed society, whilst others – such as renewable energy and regenerative agriculture – provide pathways promising to manifest transformation now.

You can read the rest of the foreword here.

You can read a review of the book on Make Wealth History.

You can purchase the book here.

As a companion film, here is the latest offering from the talented folk at Happen Films:

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Transforming the Suburbs

Please join us for this exciting forum, Transforming the Suburbs, in which the panel speakers will explore the transformative role of Australian suburbs to activate the behavioural change, cooperative-based action and practical solutions required for rapid transition to a carbon-positive low energy future.

The speakers are:
David Holmgren – Permaculture co-originator
Costa Georgiadis – Gardening Australia, ABC TV
Dominique Hes – Melbourne University
Michael Ableman – Sole Food Street Farms, Canada
Kat Lavers – Permaculture practitioner

The event will be MC’d by Nick Ritar from Milkwood Permaculture.

This expert panel will creatively explore sustainable actions, key strategies and resilience-based concepts for future suburban responses to localised and global ecological challenges. The audience will be provided expert analysis and thought-provoking ideas on how suburbia will be a vital place to survive and thrive in challenging futures. Discussion will actively engage and inform event participants about multi-faceted transitional change ideas that positively contribute toward low-energy and carbon positive sustainable home and community living.

For anyone interested in permaculture, or a shift towards creatively adapting to a more sustainable way of living, this free event is not to be missed.

Cost: Free

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RetroSuburbia Book Launch

We can’t wait!! Please join us for this momentous event. RetroSuburbia – four years in the making, is to be launched at the National Sustainable Living Festival in February 2018.

Gardening Australia’s Costa Georgiadis will launch the book and will also be in-conversation with David and facilitate a Q&A from the audience.

We are hugely lucky that Formidable Vegetable Sound System will be playing tunes on the day.

Books will be available for purchase and signing.

Find out more here: The National Sustainable Living Festival.

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Out to lunch

su-and-david-reading

Apologies if our phones and emails go unanswered. Apologies if we miss appointments, lunch dates and birthday parties. We are too busy reading the latest addition to the Melliodora Publishing family:

The Art of Frugal Hedonism: A guide to spending less while enjoying everything more

By Annie Raser-Rowland with Adam Grubb, authors of the hugely popular Weed Forager’s Handbook

The Art of Frugal Hedonism

About the book

A lot of stuff we spend money on actually makes life less enjoyable in the long run. And a lot of cheap and free stuff is very enjoyable indeed. So why choose the stuff that requires us to work all the time and get stressed about bank balances? The stuff that leads to looking in the mirror and seeing your dear face grown all puffy from too many pad Thai takeaways eaten mid-commute, because finding the energy to cook at the end of the day often feels impossible. To gazing at your house full of random possessions that seemed wonderful when you bought them but now seem to demand more care, organising, and storage space than you have the capacity for. To finding yourself at the gym, or maybe on the therapist’s couch, suspecting that you wouldn’t need to be there if you just had the time to sleep in more, or to go out dancing, like you’d love to.

“This is not a good scene!” declares the Frugal Hedonist, and opts for ditching some pricier habits and lifestyle expectations in favour of less stress. They focus their spending where it provides maximum bang per buck, and become connoisseurs of free pleasures. Then they kick back and reap the rewards.

What the heck are we talking about already? Let’s get example-y.

A Frugal Hedonist might often catch up with friends by taking a long walk together and raving about the week’s thoughts, rather than by buying drinks at a bar. They’ve noticed that the passing scenery adds just as much to the conversation as assessing the merits of the latest craft beer. They probably also go to bars now and again, but the simple act of frequently choosing the walk, means that over time layers of saved money and improved butt-tone add up to make the Frugal Hedonist enjoy other aspects of life more. Like being able to afford an extra week of unpaid holiday time over the summer, or wearing tight pants. And their friends associate them as much with the sound of birdsong or having seen a cloud in the shape of a gorilla doing push-ups, as with waking up with a blurry head and an empty wallet.

We could go on. But there’s a book that does that. It’s called… The Art of Frugal Hedonism.

“The freest and most contented people pretty much follow the advice in The Art of Frugal Hedonism.” ~ Clive Hamilton, author of Growth Fetish and co-author of Affluenza.

The Art of Frugal Hedonism is an absolute joy. It is good-natured not pious, humane not self-righteous and a guide to ethical living that makes the impossible possible. I am happy to make this my bible.” ~ Christos Tsiolkas, author of The Slap

“An invaluable harvest of tips oozing with hedonistic wit and wonder. Packed with ideas about why and how we are to live with less to ensure we have a hell of a lot more.” ~ Meg Ulman, co-author of The Art of Free Travel

“In an age that is obsessed with consumer trinkets and oblivious to waste, the philosophy of frugal hedonism provides a welcome and necessary antidote. The simplicity of this message is profound. Be frugal and be free.” ~ Samuel Alexander, co-director of the Simplicity Institute

Who is it for?

  • For people who want to reshape their spending for maximum pleasure and minimum pain.
  • For people who are already challenging cultural consumption assumptions, but would love a little backup now and again.
  • For anyone who gets a kick out of reading humorous writing (laced with a lot of nifty science) that inspires thoughts about the braver and better things in life.

You can read sample chapters and buy your copy here.

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Permaculture Activism and the Future

I was recently asked by “permaculture actionary” Delvin Solkinson to provide some words for a newsletter promoting the next Rainbow Serpent Festival at which I’ll be speaking (several times). Very normal that a previous participant at one of our Advanced Permaculture Principles Courses should be asking me for a piece for an event he has the job to promote. Except for the fact that Delvin is based in the rainforests of British Columbia, Canada and the event is Rainbow Serpent Festival, that is held each dry dusty January  in our bioregional backyard.elvishBYdesign

My reply was

“Delvin, You ask difficult questions. Attached are a few words for your “Trans Pacific Partnership” project producing a local festival mag from the west coast of Canada.”

Inevitably I said too much for Delvin to use in full, but he thought it should be available somewhere, so here it is.

 

 

What are the roots or foundations of Permaculture?
Permaculture emerged from the fusion and ferment of environmental thinking of the 1970’s. It can be thought of as applied systems ecology with a strong debt to the work of Howard Odum. In another sense it was a branch of the tree of organic agriculture, with roots in many industrialised countries, in the early 20th century informed by pioneering work on sustainable agriculture by F.H. King who wrote Farmers of  Forty Centuries; Permanent Agriculture in China, Japan and Korea.   The emphasis on perennial plants, especially trees, was strongly informed by Russell Smiths Tree Crops; A Permanent Agriculture and the resurgence in interest in Economic Botany (useful plants), and indigenous use of plants and land management.  As a social movement permaculture originated in the Counterculture  applying an activist strategy to create the world we wanted rather than fighting to stop the world we didn’t want.  Early “back to the land” self sufficiency efforts outside the mainstream economy provided a context for early application of permaculture concepts. Although not overtly political, permaculture was  influenced by  both Anarchist and Libertarian philosophies.

What is the best way to become a permaculture actionary or ‘get on the ground’ ?
There are many different entry points to becoming a “permaculture actionary”. For some it starts with books, for others it is social and practical immersion without over intellectualizing, for many it is a Permaculture Design Course. Whatever the starting point, it should become clear that the most important application of permaculture ethics and principles is to the self, through a process of self audit of our needs, wants, dependencies, creative and productive outputs and byproducts of our very existence. Getting grounded in this way is the start of a personal retro-fit or redesign process which does not require that we wait until we own land or are with the right crowd. We can be our own guinea pigs in creating a better world. It is not necessary to tell the whole world first up but it certainly helps to connect with like-minded people for ideas and inspiration in building skills and capacities to help ourselves and others adapt to a rapidly changing world.

What is the future of permaculture that you would most like to see?
My hopes for permaculture range from the most general to the most specific. As a concept I hope it continues to be informed and infused with creative thinking and activism that arises from outside its own self-referenced world . In this way it will avoid stagnation in thinking and action and continue to exhibit hybrid vigour that can respond to a rapidly changing world. This inclusive mentality that acknowledges like minded concepts and networks reduces the problems of “turf warfare” between pioneering concepts that colonise the psycho social margins of mainstream society.

This holistic “jack of all trades” scope of permaculture needs to be balanced by a “mastery of one”. For each of us the calling and contribution to a better world will be many and varied. My hope is that enough permaculture practitioners dedicate their lives to making the founding permaculture vision of truly productive bioregional tree crop agricultures a reality able to survive the rigours of climate change and energy descent. Can we do the hard yards such that reality can match the rhetoric?

These ideas are further explored in

About Permaculture

Reverence for the Bunya Bunya

Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability

Future Scenarios

Collected Writings

Essence of Permaculture

Or take part and learn in the Permaculture Design Certificate course.

 

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Pip number 2

shop_pip2_800s1-400x400Australia has a Permaculture periodical called PIP Magazine. The second edition of this new magazine on permaculture and sustainable living is now available here. It includes informative feature articles on various aspects of permaculture as well as profiles on people, projects, gardens, farms, houses and businesses. It is full of practical ideas, recipes, reviews, a directory containing permaculture related businesses, courses and people and a classifieds section. Gorgeously designed and printed in colour on 100% recycled paper, this magazine brings to life the incredible diversity of Australian permaculture and displays cutting edge activity of the moment from all over the country.

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More great books in stock

We love good books at Melliodora, and through our online shop, we would love to share some of the good books we find. You know, we choose what we distribute from our online shop carefully, share what we like and what we think deserves to be distributed. In other words, the items for sale you see at our shop carry our seal of approval. You may have noticed that we have recently added three new titles. You can find more about each item in the shop, but we would like to give you a bit of sales pitch.

Before getting into that, we would like to point why it is a good idea to order books from us.

Sure you may find the same titles sold much cheaply at Amazon and other big online distributors. But do they give back fair share to the authors and publishers? Remember “fair share”? If you want to give as much to those who deserve their share, please choose where you purchase books. At HD we do our best to keep our prices competitive, whilst managing our business ethically, so that authors and publishers are rewarded fairly.

the-weed-forager-s-handbookEnough rantings. First up, we have this elegantly produced The Weed Forager’s Handbook by Adam Grubb and Annie Raser-Rowland. Adam is no stranger in the permaculture scene, having founded the Energy Bulletin (which has morphed since into Resilience.org), the Permablitz movement (with Dan Palmer) and Very Edible Gardens. His partner in crime, Annie, is an experienced gardener and dissatisfied foodie, with a background in art. Together, they have put together a beautiful and informative handbook.

200px-Elizabeth_Blachrie_Blackwell

Elizabeth Blachrie Blackwell

We especially like the look and feel of the book, maybe partly due to its extensive used of those beautifully detailed old botanical illustrations. (The front cover picture, shown here, is Herbarium Blackweellianum by Elizabeth Blachrie Blackwell from 1757).

David Holmgren says this about this pocket size handbook.

This handbook is the essential text for both novice and experienced wild food foragers. The guidelines, excellent ID photos and choice of most useful and common species will give the novice confidence, while the facts and recipes will extend all but the most advanced weed aficionados. For the gardener tired of joyless weeding Adam and Annie open our eyes to the fact that the problem can indeed be the solution.

And the Gardening Australia presenter, Costa Georgiadis.

….. if you eat, then this book is a must-have companion.

See more about them on the Eat that weed website.

Permaculture4inMENNext up we have the Permaculture Handbook: Garden farming for town and country by Peter Bane. Being a long-time permaculture writer, publisher of the Permaculture Activist magazine, teacher and practitioner, Peter may need no introduction. In this book, he crystallises the concept of “garden farming”, and by applying pattern language, developed by Christopher Alexander et al., he adds a new page to permaculture design methods. Based on his own experience and his extensive observation, the nitty gritty of garden farming in suburbs and peri-urban landscapes are convincingly explained.

Here’s what David Holmgren has to say about this book.

Of all the permaculture books from Australia, America and around the world, this one most completely fills the big space between my own articulation of permaculture theory in Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability (2002) and my earlier intimate documentation of our own efforts towards garden farming in Melliodora: a case study in cool climate permaculture (1995). This book is likely to become the classic design manual for those with the energy and enthusiasm to become the garden farmers of the future.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8zdvj4wxqg&w=560&h=315]

fartThen, the Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz, who the New York Times once described as “one of the unlikely rock stars of the American food scene”. In this book, Katz covers everything from the benefits of fermentation to human health to practical how-tos. The examples of fermented food and drinks are extensive, from alcohol, pickles, yoghurt, sourdough bread, porridge, amazake, tempeh, salami, natto and many more, which makes this book, the most comprehensive guide to do-it-yourself home fermentation ever published.

With full-color illustrations and extended resources, this book provides essential wisdom for cooks, homesteaders, farmers, gleaners, foragers, and food lovers of all kinds who want to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for arguably the oldest form of food preservation, and part of the roots of culture itself.

We at Melliodora thought we had incorporated a fair amount of fermented food in our diet, but browsing the Art of Fermentation, we realised we have only touched the tip of iceberg. We must say, the kitchen without a copy of this, is not a kitchen.

6969And the last but not least. Long out of stock title by Joan Webster, Essential Bushfire Safety Tips is back in stock. It is the third edition, revised after the devastating Black Saturday bushfires which claimed so many lives and properties in Victoria in 2009. If you happen to be living in a bushfire prone area like most of us in Australia, and in vast areas of the US and Russia, then this book is the essential resource to prepare for fire. We need to devise our own fire plans, as fire authories are limited in what they can do, especially their ability  to defend you, your house and property from fire, a threat that seems to be increasing in ferocity and frequency as a consequence of global climate ‘weirding’. Even for those who live in urban areas, it is important to understand bushfire so they can decode media reports, and participate in the public discussions and policy formulations.

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Ideal gift to welcome in the New Year

2014 Permaculture Calendar CoverIf you haven’t already seen the Permaculture Calendar you can’t appreciate the amount of information and the motivational content in it. Each month a permaculture principle is highlighted. The calendar offers the chance to remember all the twelve by the end of 2014! This calendar is not one to throw out at the end of the year; add it to your library, in particular the permaculture section, as it will (they all will) be invaluable when revising the principles …. the more simple aids we have the better. Used in conjunction with David Holmgren’s Permaculture Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability, and Richard Telford’s Permaculture Principles website you can develop such a facility with the principles that they automatically come to mind when confronted with a problem and truly become extremely useful thinking tools.

We’re just mentioning this because you may like to use this time of the year to tell your friends and rellies that you care for them with a useful AND ethical gift (produced in Australia, 100% post consumer recycled paper, using vegetable based inks, and 10% of net returns donated to Permafund)  that won’t break the bank, and supports the small home business that produced it. A more ‘sustainable’ gift is hard to find!

 

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An interview with Permaculture Pioneer Robyn Francis

Robyn_Francis_sqA little bit about Robyn

From a background in organics, sustainability and community activism, since 1983 Robyn Francis has worked throughout Australia and internationally as a permaculture teacher, designer, facilitator and presenter. She has taught hundreds of courses including PDCs, specialist training and Accredited Permaculture Training (APT). She edited the Permaculture International Journal for five years, was a founding director of Permaculture International Ltd (1987), and contributed to the design and successful accreditation of APT. Since 1993 she has developed one of Australia’s leading purpose-designed education and training centres, Djanbung Gardens, now home base for the bioregional campus of Permaculture College Australia Inc.

Robyn has trained and mentored numerous permaculturists, many of whom are doing significant work internationally and in their local communities and bioregions. She is a passionate communicator, cook, gardener, poet, singer/songwriter and composer who loves gourd crafting, building with bamboo and generally walking her talk.

A Permaculture Pioneer

Permaculture Pioneers: stories from the new frontierRobyn Francis is one of the 26 contributors to Permaculture Pioneers – stories from the new frontier. In this short interview, introduced by co-editor Kerry Dawborn, Robyn talks about how permaculture informs everything in her life now, how permaculture brings a sense of hope during tumultuous times, and how the movement needs to find a better balance between the human ‘people care’ element and the practical physical systems.

10% of all sales of Permaculture Pioneers whether in print form, or eBook form, continue to go to Permafund, supporting Permaculture projects around the world especially those that assist with resilience in the developing world and in places of extreme need. So why not purchase a copy and dip into the stories of these inspiring early adopters. Permaculture Pioneers is now available on iTunes.

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