Tag Archives | Relocalisation

A History from the Future

We are thrilled to be sharing with you an excerpt from David Holmgren’s A History from the Future – a prelude to his upcoming book RetroSuburbia.


A HISTORY FROM THE FUTURE: a prosperous way down

future-scenarios-logoLong time central Victorian resident and co-originator of the globally influential permaculture concept, David Holmgren draws on his Future Scenarios work to paint a picture of how simple household and community level strategies can build resilience to the hard emerging realities of economic contraction, peak oil and climate change.

Holmgren has spent decades modelling how low impact resilient ways of living and land use provide a happier and healthier alternative to dependent consumerism. In this story, based on an original presentation from the Local Lives Global Matters conference in Castlemaine 2015, he shows how these informed lifestyle choices and biological solutions become the basis for surfing the downslope of the emerging energy descent future.


A LOCAL STORY FROM 2086

Prelude: The World at Energy Peak 2000-2015

At the turn of the 21st century the evidence for energy descent driven by peak oil and climate change was already strong. The quasi religious belief in continuous economic growth had a strong hold on collective psychology in central Victoria as much as anywhere in the world. The global financial system began to unravel in 2008 at the same time that global production of conventional oil peaked. For a minority it was increasingly obvious that the policies put in place ensured that the collapse was even more severe when it did come. It was like the powers that be had pushed the accelerator hard to the floor in one of those supercharged sports cars of the time, to attempt to jump across the widening chasm that humanity was facing.

The collapse of global financial growth unfolded differently in different places but here the story had many upsides that were partly due to luck and partly a result of visionaries and innovators who helped create a better future. These are the bare bones of how we got from what a few people still consider was the golden age to what we call the Earth Steward culture.

Photo Erica Zabowski

Choose from a vast array of nothing, or perhaps a different path. Photo Erica Zabowski

First Energy Descent Crisis 2017-2026

In 2017 the Australian property bubble burst. For our communities, this marked the start of the First Energy Descent Crisis (of the 21st century). Ballarat Bank was the first financial institution to fail and a government forced take over by the Commonwealth Bank saw the Community Bank network hived off as local lending co-ops backed by local government hoping to restart economic activity in regional towns that were increasingly on their own as State and Federal governments focused on dealing with hardship and social unrest in the cities.

The crisis was world wide, so dramatically reduced global Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the peak of global oil (what they called Total Liquids at the time) the same year was very much in line with the 1972 Limits To Growth report default scenario showing industrial output peaking about that time. More recent studies suggest that net energy available to support humanity peaked closer to the turn of the millennium but it’s all a moot point because it seems that economic growth had been a net drain on human welfare for decades before that.

As capital investment in oil fell off a cliff, and production from existing fields declined at nearly 10% there was a second oil price shock, a US currency collapse and a short war between the USA and China in 2022. Australia got punished in the trade embargo imposed by China. The economic crisis in China had already caused nearly 100 million of the recently urbanised workers to return to the villages, and reimposition of a command economy to continue the shift to renewable energy and revitalise agriculture. Consequently China was able to cope without Australian coal and gas and there was so much scrap steel in the world that the iron ore exports had come to a standstill.

While oil and food remained costly (at least relative to falling wages) most manufactured goods were dirt-cheap. Solar panels from China (somehow getting around the trade embargo) accelerated the trend for retail customers going off grid which, combined with collapse of commercial demand for electricity, led to a “Death Spiral” in the power grid with rising prices and increasing blackouts (and surges due to excess wind and solar inputs).

A newly elected Federal Labor government renationalised the power grid, along with price controls, rationing an Australia ID card allowing rationed access to subsidised supermarkets that had been experiencing shortages of fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy.

In Victoria, a Liberal government implemented policies to encourage people to be more self-reliant. Permaculture education was adopted as a framework for integrating aspects of self-reliance including home food production, owner building, water harvesting and waste management.

Rationing of fuel led to hitch-hiking, ride sharing and in rural areas a rush to convert vehicles to wood gas. Bicycles became the default personal transport around town in Castlemanine but in Daylesford and Hepburn, electric bikes and vehicles powered by the Hepburn Wind charging stations installed for tourists before the property bubble burst maintained mobility for locals.

Kanagawa Chuo Kotsu Charcoal Bus

Charcoal powered public transport from Japan. Photo: ‘Lover of Romance’

Conversion of vehicles to wood gas by a range of bush mechanics and ex-hot rodders had mixed success. The market value of higher powered larger vehicles and trucks rose as a result of the first wave of conversions. The Castlemaine Obtainium Engineering Institute was established to test and improve local designs and prototypes. One of the motivations was a competitive spirit with the electric car networks centred in Daylesford and Ballarat.

Use of Bitcoin (a virtual currency), local currencies, precious metals and barter all increased to support exchange in the rapidly growing informal and grey economies. Bitcoin then failed in mysterious circumstances after being targeted for funding terrorism.

The Internet began functioning again after major breakdowns during the conflict between the US and China. But Facebook and Amazon were bankrupt, cyberspace was littered with defunct and unmaintained sites and Internet marketing was plagued by cyber crime and draconian government regulations. Local computer networks using wireless technology, as well as a revival of two-way radio, started building back to basics communication pathways.


A History from the Future eBookletTo read the full story, purchase the eBook here or get the download for FREE when you sign up to our mailing list for updates to David Holmgren’s upcoming book RetroSuburbia, due for release in March 2017.

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Land Cultures: shared knowledges

Bruce Pascoe and David Holmgren to meet and share knowledges

Award-winning Australian writer, editor and anthologist Bruce Pascoe is leading a movement of researchers that is rewriting Aboriginal history in Australia.

On Thursday April 7 2016 Pascoe will visit Daylesford for a series of free events including Land Cultures: Aboriginal economies and permaculture futures at the Daylesford Town Hall at 7.30pm – Bruce Pascoe in conversation with David Holmgren.

LandCultures_jpeg_lThe evening event will commence with a Dja Dja Wurrung smoking ceremony and Welcome to Country. A Hepburn Shire Council representative will present a progress report on the Shire’s recognition and reconciliation projects. Pascoe’s keynote address will be followed by a response from David Holmgren, before opening the discussion to the floor. Supper will be provided by Hepburn Relocalisation Network (for a gold coin donation).

Come and join the discussion and understand how the foods of Australia pre-1788 may become the foods of a climate-altered 21st century economy that acknowledge and celebrate the past. You can join the Facebook event here.

Other free events on the day include:

2pm tour of Dja Dja Wurrung tools at the Daylesford Museum.
3pm reading by Bruce of his young adult fiction at the Daylesford Library.
4pm planting of murnongs (yam daisies) at the Daylesford Library community garden.

All events are presented by the Hepburn Relocalisation Network with the generous assistance and funding of the Hepburn Shire Council.

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Bruce Pascoe has a Bunurong and Tasmanian heritage. In his latest book, Dark Emu: black seeds, Pascoe shows that the Aboriginal history we were taught in school — that indigenous Australians were chancey hunter-gatherer nomads — is a fiction. Using point of contact journals by European explorers, Pascoe demonstrates the extent of the ecologically sensitive agricultural practices that existed in Australia pre-1788, and shows that Aboriginal Australians were possibly the world’s first bread makers, preceding the Egyptians by at least 18,000 years.

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Aussie St at Rainbow

How come permaculture co-originator (an old codger) David Holmgren is using a surfing metaphor to talk about suburbia at the Rainbow Serpent festival, in the dry inland, to mostly young people who don’t own a house and have most likely recently escaped suburbia to find their way in the world?
David traces the history of suburbia from the 1950’s through to the present and on into a challenging future that is already unfolding using an entertaining and edgy story about his imaginary but amazingly true-to-life Aussie Street.

While many young people are now questioning the idea of debt to become home owners, few can see a pathway forward that will give them some capacity to create the world they do want.
David shows how getting out of debt, downsizing and rebooting our dormant household and community non-monetary economies are the best hedges that ordinary citizens can make.

The idea that these household and community economies could achieve unprecedented growth rates if the monetary economy takes a serious dive, is a good news story you won’t hear from mainstream media. The metaphor of surfing suggests a stronger role for positive risk taking behaviour change without the need for expensive changes to the built environment that few will be able to afford. The permaculture makeover and behaviour change in a retrofitted Aussie St allows the residents to not only survive but thrive through the “dumpers” of the property bubble collapse, climate chaos and geopolitical energy shocks that hit the lucky country in the Second Great Depression of the 2020’s .

An endearing, amusing and gutsy story of hope for in-situ adaptation by the majority of Australians living in our towns and suburbs.

And if you think it is just a dream, check out some of the examples of Aussie Street style retrofitting of the suburb.

Hulbert Street in Fremantle, WA is a great example. Here, a driving force behind neighbourhood remaking, Shani Graham, talks about her experience in a Tedx talkfest in Perth. A permaculture activist in the Blue Mountains in NSW, Paula Ajuria informed us late last year that a neighbourhood retrofit is underway. We are sure there are many other Aussie Streets out there, and hopefully after Rainbow, there will be many more.

Come and see how the real Aussie dreams are made at Rainbow.
See our Event page for more details.

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David to talk at Going Local: Sustainable & Fair Food in Melbourne

“Healthy food systems are the foundation for healthy lives, communities, economies and ecosystems. In order to build a future for Melbourne in which we can all thrive, we need a food system that is sustainable, resilient and equitable”.

Do you want to find out how it could be done? Then you should join us with David Holmgren on Tuesday evening, 11 February for Sustainable & Fair Food: Going Local. This evening, organised by Doing Something Good, an organisation set up in 2011 by Melbourne Social Entrepreneur of the Year award winner, David Hood, will give you a food for thought. David Holmgren will be one of the keynote speakers who will discuss the most crucial issues of our time from a whole systems perspective.

Sustainable & Fair Food: Going Local will be held at Grand Buffet Hall, Union House, University of Melbourne. The evening is free, but you need to register at the Doing Something Good website.

DSG-RGB-72a603-Mid-Green-Landscape-Logo

At Sustainable & Fair Food: Going Local, you’ll hear why building a local food economy is good for the environment, farmers, community, your weekly food bill, and our future. You’ll get to share what ‘going local’ means for you, why you think it’s important, and how the City of Melbourne might help us all to ‘go local’. You’ll also get to cocreate a vision for the City of Melbourne about what ‘going local’ might look like for producers, retailers, restauranteurs, community and government, in and around Melbourne.

 

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Crash on Demand: Welcome to the Brown Tech Future

Slide16In Crash on Demand, David Holmgren not only updates Future Scenarios (2007) work but also builds on his essay Money vs Fossil Energy: The battle for control of the world (2009), as a running commentary on the rapid changes in the big picture context for permaculture activism, especially in the Australian context.  It assumes understanding of these previous works and, of course permaculture.  ‘Preaching to the choir’ it may be, but hopefully it contributes new perspectives to keep permaculture activists ahead of the game.

Permaculture teaching and activism have always aimed to work with those already interested in changing their lives, land and communities for the better, rather than proselytising the disinterested majority.  Over many decades, idealistic youth have responded positively to the ‘can-do’, personal empowerment of permaculture design, but it has also attracted more experienced citizens disillusioned with top down mainstream environmentalism’s failure to stop the juggernaut of consumer capitalism.  Similarly, disillusioned social and political activists are just starting to recognise permaculture as a potentially effective pathway for societal change as 20th century style mass movements seem to have lost their potency.

David’s argument is essentially that radical, but achievable, behaviour change from dependent consumers to responsible self-reliant producers (by some relatively small minority of the global middle class) has a chance of stopping the juggernaut of consumer capitalism from driving the world over the climate change cliff.  It maybe a slim chance, but a better bet than current herculean efforts to get the elites to pull the right policy levers; whether by sweet promises of green tech profits or alternatively threats from mass movements shouting for less consumption.

Crash on demand (2Mg pdf)

A Spanish translation (by Silvia Di Blasio, Daniel Mendez and Hernán Del Vecchio): Colapso por Encargo.

In Turkish (translated by Suat Ertüzün): Kahverengi Teknoloji Çağı’na Hoş Geldiniz.

See the discussion this essay has created.

See also the intervies and a summary.


Future Scenarios: How communities can adapt to Peak Oil and Climate Change
Also available:

Future Scenarios: How communities can adapt to Peak Oil and Climate Change – the book

In it David outlines four scenarios that bring to life the likely cultural, political, agricultural, and economic implications of peak oil and climate change, and the generations-long era of “energy descent” that faces us.

 

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‘Relocalisation’ at Charlottesville

Relocalisation-sliderFilm and discussion evening at Charlottesville,Va, USA on April 11. David Holmgren’s film “Relocalisation: How Peak Oil Can Lead to Permaculture” will be screened, followed by a talk by Gabe Engle who experienced a 17 months apprenticeship with David and his partner Su Dennett at  Melliodora, their home and permaculture demonstration site in Hepburn Springs in Australia. ‘Great Gabe’ will tell you all about his extensive permaculture experience down under. Should be a cracker night.

Where: The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative

When: 7pm, April 11

Cost: Free

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